Protect victims of domestic abuse and their children

Open letter to Party Leaders

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
The Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP
Jo Swinson MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

05 November 2019

Dear Party Leaders,

Re: Protect victims of domestic abuse and their children
As representatives from across the children’s, domestic abuse and Violence Against Women and Girls sectors, we are calling on the new Government to introduce domestic abuse legislation as a matter of urgency. This should include a new statutory duty on local authorities to commission a full spectrum of specialist domestic abuse services for all victims, including adults who want to stay safely in their own homes rather than flee, and for children and young people.

We know that children affected by domestic abuse are some of the most vulnerable in the country, and that domestic violence is the most common factor identified during assessments of children ‘In Need’ of support from local authority children’s social care. Yet children are too often the ‘hidden victims’ of domestic abuse – left without the care and support they need to recover from harm and risk continuing the cycle of abuse in later relationships.

One in five police force areas in England and Wales has no specialist support for young people experiencing domestic abuse at all, and fewer than one percent of perpetrators currently receive any intervention to challenge or change their behaviour. Without tackling the root cause of the problem, domestic abuse will not be stopped.

Research suggests 25 percent of girls aged 13 to 17 report having experienced some form of physical violence from an intimate partner, but many do not receive support. A statutory duty to commission a full spectrum of specialist domestic abuse services for all victims of any age, as well as perpetrators, would mean support would be available for the whole family, to prevent coercive control, violence and harm, and to help them forge a positive future. Victims who want to stay safely in their own homes would be supported to do so, and provision would be available for those who really have to leave.

We urge you to commit personally to introducing domestic abuse legislation as your first act should you be (re)elected Prime Minister, and for this to be included in your party’s Manifesto.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Javed Khan, CEO, Barnardo’s
Suzanne Jacob, CEO, SafeLives
Julie Bentley, CEO, Action for Children
Peter Wanless, CEO, NSPCC
Peter Grigg, Director of External Affairs, The Children’s Society
Anna Feuchtwang, CEO, National Children’s Bureau
Niki Scordi, CEO, Advance
Jemima Olchawski, CEO, Agenda
Professor Gene Feder OBE, Domestic Violence and Health Group, Bristol Medical
Professor Louise Howard, Professor in Women’s Mental Health
Fiona Dwyer, CEO, Solace Women’s Aid
Cathy Ashley, CEO, Family Rights Group
Frank Mullane MBE, CEO, AAFDA
Guddy Burnet, Co-Founder, DAHA
Elizabeth Filkin CBE, Chair, Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse
Jenny Beck, Director, Beck Fitzgerald and Co-Chair Legal Aid Practitioners Group
Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, Director, Surviving Economic Abuse
Donna Covey, CEO, AVA
Diana Fawcett, CEO, Victim Support
Suky Bhaker, Acting CEO, Suzy Lamplugh Trust
Shonagh Dillon, CEO, Aurora New Dawn
Estelle Du Boulay, Director, Rights of Women
Lyndsey Dearlove, Head, UK SAYS NO MORE
Harriet Wistrich, Founding Director, Centre for Women’s Justice
Diana Nammi, Executive Director, IKWRO
Medina Johnson, CEO, IRISi
Abigail Ampofo, Director of Operations, Hestia
Gisela Valle, Director, LAWRS
Hannah Shead, CEO, Trevi House
Professor Jane Callaghan, Director, Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection,
University of Stirling
Dr Emma Katz, Senior Lecturer in Childhood and Youth, Liverpool Hope University
Ruth Bashall, CEO, Stay Safe East
Jasvinder Sanghera CBE, Founder, Karma Nirvana