Refuge responds to the publication of the draft Victims Bill


In response to the publication of the draft Victims Bill, Refuge CEO Ruth Davison said:

“The Victims Bill is an important piece of legislation which aims to put victim-survivors, back at the heart of the justice system, a move which Refuge welcomes. We are particularly pleased that the principles of the Victims Code will be enshrined in law, meaning survivors will now be provided with the necessary information to help them navigate and challenge the criminal justice system.

However, there is still a long road ahead to making the criminal justice system work for survivors. Barriers are already high to reporting, with trust low in the police and criminal justice system, in no small part due to the lack of communication survivors often receive from these agencies and the lack of training for police and criminal justice system staff on working with survivors in a trauma-informed way. These changes need to be implemented swiftly to ensure survivors aren’t further traumatised by the process of coming forward about the abuse they’ve faced.

It was disappointing to see our calls for a duty on relevant public authorities to commission community-based support services based on an assessment of needs excluded from the draft Bill. This is a missed opportunity to ensure all survivors of domestic abuse are able to access much-needed specialist support.

Our Independent Domestic Violence Advisors do incredible work supporting abuse survivors through a challenging process. Refuge welcomes the statutory definition of and guidance on their roles as announced. This will ensure they, as well as ISVAs, are recognised and respected by other agencies. However, this definition must be flexible enough to recognise their varied roles, particularly within ‘by and for’ services supporting minoritised communities.

We hope to see the Bill improve on the areas of concern to improve survivors’ experiences seeking justice and put the specialist community-based services that survivors so desperately need on a sustainable footing”.


Interviews available on request. Please contact the Press Office on 0207 395 7731 or email

Notes to Editors

About Refuge

Refuge supports thousands of women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.

Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.

Visit Refuge’s Tech Safety Website at for information on tech abuse and to find guidance on how to secure your personal and home devices. For real time automated support Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.