Home Affairs Select Committee 2008

Summary of Refuge’s involvement in the Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into Domestic Violence – June 2008


October 2007

  • Refuge submitted written evidence

January 2008

  • Refuge facilitated testimony from a survivor of domestic violence to the Committee during a private seminar

February 2008

  • Refuge gave oral evidence
  • Refuge appeared on GMTV to communicate its recommendations to the Committee
  • Refuge encouraged service users to take part in the Committee’s e-consultation by facilitating the appearance of a survivor of domestic violence (alongside Keith Vaz MP – Chairman of the Committee) on GMTV

March 2008

  • Refuge facilitated a Committee visit to the National Domestic Violence Helpline. Visitors included Martin Salter MP, Margaret Moran MP and Gwyn Prosser MP
  • Refuge provided further written briefings in follow up to the oral evidence

June 2008

  • Home Affairs Select Committee published its report to Government
  • Refuge was cited extensively in the Home Affairs Select Committee report
  • Refuge undertook extensive media work following publication of the report, including BBC News 24

Nicola Sharp, head of policy and parliamentary affairs, said:

“Refuge is delighted to see its recommendations laid out by the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into Domestic Violence.

We wholeheartedly agree that a national strategy, supported by adequate funding, is the only way to address domestic violence – Refuge has been calling for such a strategy since providing evidence to the last Committee in 1992.  Two women are killed each week and the state foots an annual £25 billion bill to cover the costs incurred by domestic violence .  The only way change will ever come about is by taking an integrated and joined up approach that ensures there are sufficient services for women and children as well as preventative work in our schools.

As the country’s largest provider of services to women and children experiencing domestic violence, Refuge commends the Committee for acknowledging the dire lack of provision of services facing women.

We know only too well that many women and children are still unable to access vital services and support because of the shortage in provision.  Almost one third of all local authorities have no domestic violence services for women and children in their area.  Yet this is despite the recommendation of the 1975 Select Committee on Violence in Marriage, 33 years ago, which identified that there should be at least one refuge space per 10,000 head of the population. [1]

Whilst omitted from the report, Refuge also hopes that future plans develop and strengthen service provision for children staying in refuges with their mothers.  Every year around 750,000 children experience domestic violence – where are the services to support these children, who are often the most excluded in the country?

So the question is – will the recommendations made by this year’s Select Committee be listened to?  Will the postcode lottery of domestic violence services be addressed?  Will the need to ensure preventative work within schools and with the public at large really happen?  Since the first Committee in 1975 and the second in 1992 thousands of lives have been lost.   Yet many of these deaths could have been prevented if the government had acted sooner and made domestic violence a priority.

If the loss of lives isn’t enough of an incentive to implement the changes recommended in the Report perhaps the billions of pounds spent year on year will provide the necessary impetus – especially in today’s economic climate.

Refuge, which has been campaigning for these essential changes for over 36 years, can only hope that the time for real change has finally come – or will we be saying the same to the next Committee in 10 or so year’s time?”

[1]The second inquiry in 1992 also stated that: We recommend that the first priority for the Government action on domestic violence should be the establishment of a central, co-ordinated policy for refuge provision throughout the country. We believe this could well be the greatest cost-saving measure that could be taken.


Refuge’s written evidence to HASC 2007

The HASC Report into Domestic Violence, Forced Marriage and ‘Honour’-Based Violence

Refuge submitted written evidence