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Domestic Abuse: Support for Women

Volume 641: debated on Thursday 17 May 2018

10. What steps the Government are taking to support women who are experiencing domestic abuse. (905386)

12. What steps the Government are taking to support women who are experiencing domestic abuse. (905389)

This Government have introduced a new offence of coercive and controlling behaviour, rolled out new tools such as domestic violence protection orders and committed £100 million to supporting victims of violence against women and girls. On 8 March, we launched the consultation on domestic abuse, which will include not just the draft Bill, but a package of non-legislative measures to take steps to further support victims and target perpetrators of this terrible crime.

I am grateful to the Minister for that response. However, in 2016, the Ministry of Justice closed the courts in Halifax, and I hear from West Yorkshire police that it is now routinely taking up to 12 months for domestic abuse victims to have their cases heard in the neighbouring courts in Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield. How have we allowed that to happen? Victims are withdrawing from that process. What are we doing to put this right?

I am concerned to hear that. If I may, I will take that away and discuss it with my colleagues in the Ministry of Justice. In west London, the tri-borough scheme includes specific specialist domestic abuse courts. I am currently looking into that, because there may be more that we can do in that regard throughout the country.

At Women and Equalities questions on 29 March, I asked the Minister about the concerns of Women’s Aid and other domestic violence charities about the changes to supported housing funding, and I asked her to liaise with her colleagues in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Can she assure us that the concerns of Women’s Aid and other charities have been taken into consideration? What discussions has she had with that Ministry?

Discussions are ongoing; I speak constantly to my colleagues across the Government about the support we offer to victims of domestic abuse. The hon. Lady will know that we committed £20 million to the domestic abuse accommodation fund, and, like me, she will have been pleased that we introduced the Secure Tenancies (Victims of Domestic Abuse) Act 2018 to help the victims of domestic abuse.