Government misses key opportunity to ensure the Victim’s Bill in a step change in the support for domestic abuse survivors
In a response to the Justice Select Committee’s recommendations for the upcoming Victim’s Bill, the Government has rejected several important recommendations which would have significantly strengthened it.
The Victim’s Bill will put the Victims Code on a statutory footing, enshrining victims’ rights to:
- Access specialist support services;
- Be informed about how the criminal justice process works;
- Have their voice heard, including through the right to meet the prosecutor where relevant; and
- Challenge decisions made about cases that impact them.
Rebecca Goshawk, Head of Partnerships and Public Affairs said “We welcome that the Government will be amending the Victim’s Bill to make it clear that bereaved families and children conceived of rape are classed as victims. It is also positive to see that local bodies will have to take into account the needs of child victims of domestic abuse when assessing what services are required in their local areas.
“However, we are disappointed that the Ministry of Justice has not taken the opportunity to ensure that there is a step change in the support that domestic abuse and sexual violence victims receive, and a much-needed improvement to their experience of the justice system.
With over 70% of domestic abuse survivors being supported in the community and many local services already hugely stretched, this was an ideal opportunity for the Ministry of Justice to provide specific funding commitments for community based services and protected allocations for services run by and for Black and Minoritised women, Deaf and disabled women and LGBTQ+ survivors.
“As the Justice Select Committee set out, we are worried that the Victims Bill risks raising victims’ awareness of their rights only to leave them unable to access them due to the relevant services who are already working at full capacity.”
“Migrant victims are so often failed by services and their immigration status can be used to further abuse. We are dismayed that the Government has rejected the Justice Select Committee’s recommendation to immediately end data sharing between the Home Office and the police and introduce a firewall for migrant victims to ensure they are able to get help.”
“We urge the Government to relook at the Bill to ensure that domestic abuse and sexual violence survivors in the community can access the support they need to build safe and independent lives.”