Refuge responds to Victims Bill Consultation

 
Responding to the launch of the Victims Bill Consultation, Refuge CEO Ruth Davison said:

‘Refuge welcomes the publication of this important consultation and the ambition expressed by the government to improve outcomes for victims of crime and committing to ensuring that they will be ‘better heard, served and protected.

However, the ambition of doing better for victims and ensuring that none feel unsupported must be matched with action. Specialist services must form the cornerstone of a victim-centred, trauma-informed response to violence against women and girls. Refuge is disappointed that the commitment to ensuring vital community-based services can operate on a more stable footing by introducing a legal duty to provide these services is missing from today’s announcement and is not specifically consulted on. Ensuring these services are able to fulfil their potential and are adequately funded is fundamental to ensuring support for victims and will also ensure that victim attrition decreases, and criminal justice outcomes improve. This is a worrying omission.

Refuge also knows just how traumatic the criminal justice system can be for women experiencing domestic abuse. Making changes which support women and help them remain within the system is key to ensuring they can access justice and abusers are held to account. The ambition to increase the instances in which pre-recorded evidence can be presented to courts is a welcome step forward to achieving the goal of making the process less traumatic to survivors.

But all these outcomes can only really deliver better protection for victims if the funding is there to meet need. While the Spending Review commitment of £185 million is of course welcome, this should be spent broadly across a range of specialist services, to ensure women and girls can access the support that is most beneficial to them. Refuge is concerned about the narrow focus on IDVA and ISVA provision because we know that survivors rely on a wider range of support, including outreach and Helpline support. It is therefore critical that the full range of services survivors rely on are provided, and delivered by, specialists. This includes the proposed 24/7 sexual violence Helpline which must be run by VAWG experts able to provide the level of support women need and deserve.’

ENDS.

For more information or to arrange an interview contact the press office on email press@refuge.org.uk 

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 www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk 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 support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org