Refuge response to Home Affairs Select Committee report on domestic abuse during Covid-19

 

In response to the Home Affairs Select Committee report on domestic abuse during Covid-19, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said:

‘Refuge welcomes the publication of this important report, which highlights the huge risk that women living with abusive partners face during lockdown. The stay at home measures are of course a critical part of the Government’s strategy to save lives during this crisis, but it is important to look at the implications of those measures when home is not a safe place. For many women isolating with an abusive partner is a matter of life and death – in a very different way.

Refuge knows first-hand the huge need for specialist frontline services across the country – calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, have spiked significantly during the lockdown – seeing an on average increase of around 50% in calls and over 400% in visits to its website since lockdown measures began.

Refuge strongly supports the Committee’s recommendation to increase refuge capacity and funding for specialist services. Cuts since 2010 have decimated frontline services and the need for increased funding and more services has never been greater. All women who need to escape during lockdown and beyond must be assured of a safe place to stay with specialist support – and this must include ensuring provision for those with insecure immigration status. No woman should be denied safety because she has no recourse to public funds.

The recommendations given by the Committee are sensible, realistic and would make a significant difference to the women and children we support. What is needed now is a coordinated Government strategy to implement them with urgency. In parallel, the Domestic Abuse Bill, which comes back to Parliament this week for its second reading, gives a perfect opportunity for quick action and implementation in law. Refuge is hopeful that the Government will implement a strategy which prioritises the legal duty to provide refuges and which incorporates the recommendations from the Committee’s report, as well as both oral and written evidence provided by Refuge.

Across England and Wales two women every week are killed by a current or former partner and almost one in three women aged between 16-59 will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Refuge stands ready to work closely with the Government. Now, more than ever, we need a robust and bold response. Women’s lives depend on it.’

Spokespeople available on request. Please contact the press office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk.