Press Release

24 April 2020

Refuge response to Domestic Abuse Bill second reading announcement

In response to the announcement that the Domestic Abuse Bill will return to Parliament on Tuesday 28th April, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge said:

“Refuge is pleased that the Domestic Abuse Bill, which was delayed as a result of the snap election last year, is set to return to Parliament for its second reading. The Bill, many years in the making, is the product of hard work across the women’s sector and its need has never been greater.

The last few weeks – as the UK has been under necessary strict lockdown measures – have highlighted more than ever just how many women are at risk of domestic abuse and the stark need for specialist services. On one day alone, Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline saw a 120% increase in calls, whilst our website saw a 700% increase when compared to the previous day.

Refuge is hopeful that the Bill will be truly transformative, bold and will address the funding shortfalls that specialist services have seen over the last 10 years. This is an unique opportunity to transform society’s response to domestic abuse, to ensure survivors are able to access the support that they need and rebuild their lives free from violence and fear.

Public awareness of domestic abuse has never been higher. This is surely the time for the Government to be ambitious in its response. Lockdown is a reminder that when women need to flee abusive partners, that there must be somewhere safe and secure for them to go. Ensuring refuge accommodation is properly funded across the country and prioritised in the Domestic Abuse Bill will be first step to ensuring no woman or child is ever turned away. The Government can achieve this by committing to fully funding its new legal duty to provide refuges.

Across England and Wales two women every week are killed by a current or former partner. Almost one in three women aged between 16-59 will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives. The need for specialist services has never been greater, and Refuge hopes the Government is able to cement its commitment to addressing domestic abuse by ensuring the Bill is as strong and transformative as it has the potential to be. Women’s lives depend on it.”