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Domestic Abuse Victims

Volume 681: debated on Monday 28 September 2020

During lockdown, we continued to legislate on the Domestic Abuse Bill. This vital Bill and our non-legislative programme of work will support and protect victims and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. In response to covid-19, we have worked with charities, the police, local authorities and the domestic abuse commissioner to adapt to the pressures of lockdown and local restrictions, including additional funding for charities and the launch of the national advice campaign, #YouAreNotAlone.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. It is no secret that lockdown was a time of heightened risk for victims of domestic abuse. I pay tribute to local charity Crossroads Derbyshire for the important work it does in providing support for people in my constituency. May I ask the Minister to provide an important point of clarification on the latest covid rules: can those individuals who are at risk of domestic abuse still leave their homes even if there are local covid restrictions in place?

I thank my hon. Friend sincerely for his question. The answer is yes, they absolutely can leave their homes to seek help. Of course, if anyone is in immediate danger, they must dial 999 and the police will help. For longer-term advice and guidance, we have set out a range of services on the website, but please can we all send the message to our constituents that, wherever they are in the country, they can seek help if they need it if they are victims of domestic abuse?

I echo the calls of the Minister to get people to reach out, and we have to make sure there is help when they do so. On a call last week with the children’s sector, professional after professional told me that the availability of specialist community support for child victims of domestic abuse is at worst non-existent and at best patchy. Can the Minister tell the House if her Department has a strategy in place that will enable every child in this country who lives in an abusive household to access the support that they need? Can she share that strategy with the House, not just read out funding sums from her folder that she and I both know cover only certain select areas for a short-term period? Perhaps she could enlighten us all on how we can access the support for the children in our constituencies, because for many in this place services for child victims in their area do not exist.

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. She knows just how carefully the Government consider the role and the victimhood of children in abusive households. She will know that we have recently announced £3 million to help charities specifically that work with children who are victims of domestic abuse. [Interruption.] I know she writes that off as yet another funding announcement, but I think that the funding of these charities is very important. In addition, we have a range of strategies and funding across the Department for Education, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Home Office to help the most vulnerable children, and I am sure she welcomes the work that the domestic abuse commissioner is undertaking to map domestic abuse community-based services across the country so that we can build a sustainable programme of support for victims, whether they are adults or children.