Transforming the response to domestic abuse
Joint Home Secretary and Justice Secretary foreword
All forms of violence and abuse are unacceptable but it is particularly shocking when it is carried out by those who are supposedly closest to the victims, and by those who profess to love the very people that they subject to terrible psychological, emotional and physical abuse. Domestic abuse impacts on victims’ everyday lives, can feel inescapable and have devastating inter-generational consequences on children.
Both women and men are victims of domestic abuse, and this consultation seeks views on how we can best support all of those affected. However, we know that a disproportionate number of victims are women, especially in the most severe cases. This is why the government’s approach to domestic abuse is framed within the Violence Against Women and Girls strategy, which has proved effective.
This government is committed to doing everything we can to end domestic abuse. To achieve this we need to build a society that has zero tolerance towards domestic abuse and actively empowers victims, communities and professionals to confront and challenge it. We are determined to ensure victims feel safe and supported, both to seek help and to rebuild their lives.
We also want to challenge and change the attitudes that can underpin domestic abuse to prevent it from happening in the first place. To do this we need to break the silence and encourage people to talk more openly about the issue. We want to ensure that perpetrators are held responsible for their actions and are brought to justice in a way that properly recognises the devastating consequences of their behaviour. We also need to ensure all professionals have the knowledge, tools and guidance to intervene earlier to protect victims before abuse escalates, and where possible rehabilitate offenders to prevent reoffending.
Finally, we need to ensure that the response victims receive, and the action taken to punish and rehabilitate offenders, is not a postcode lottery. We know that some areas have already introduced innovative and effective programmes to both support victims and their families and prevent domestic abuse happening, but we know these approaches are not widespread enough. Our ambition is that all areas rise to the level of the best, and that services reform further and faster to meet the needs of those experiencing abuse and violence.
This consultation seeks views on a number of specific measures that we set-out in the Queen’s speech, as well as views on other steps that we can take forward through future domestic abuse legislation. But we also wholly recognise that it will take more than new laws to help victims and survivors rebuild their lives and to combat this insidious harm. The consultation accordingly also sets out, and seeks views on, the steps we can take to raise awareness, support victims, and ensure perpetrators are stopped.
We want this consultation to stimulate a national conversation on how to prevent and tackle domestic abuse. We will continue to work closely with support organisations that do excellent work supporting victims and will be holding a series of events across the country to capture as many views and experiences as possible.
We are optimistic that by working together we can better prevent, protect and support victims of domestic abuse.
The Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP The Rt Hon David Gauke MP
Home Secretary Lord Chancellor and
Secretary of State for Justice
Why We Are Consulting
In February 2017, the Prime Minister announced a new programme of work leading towards a draft Domestic Abuse Bill to change how we think about and tackle domestic abuse. We also committed an additional £20 million of funding for domestic abuse services.
To inform our next steps we are consulting on a number of ideas for tackling domestic abuse. We want to hear views on how we can best:
• promote awareness – to make sure everyone understands what domestic abuse is and how to tackle it.
• protect and support – to improve the safety of victims and the support available.
• pursue and deter – to ensure that perpetrators are held responsible for their actions and that the response of police and the justice system is effective.
• improve performance –to encourage all services and organisations working with domestic abuse victims or perpetrators to do so in the best way possible.