News | Press Release

24 January 2024

Victims and Prisoners Bill enters Committee Stage in the House of Lords

Commenting on the Victims and Prisoners Bill entering Committee Stage in the House of Lords Sophie Ireland, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer at Refuge, said:

“Today, the Victims and Prisoners Bill enters Committee stage in the House of Lords, where Peers will debate and scrutinise the Bill. Refuge is calling on peers to support amendments to the Bill, so life-saving community-based domestic abuse services, get the funding and stability they so desperately need, estimated to be £238 million per year.

We know these community services are a lifeline for survivors, with 95% of survivors supported by Refuge in the last year using these services. Specialistic domestic abuse support services providing holistic inter-connected support are local lifelines for survivors of domestic abuse in their communities, such as Refuge’s The Gaia Centre in Lambeth which hosted a visit by Her Majesty The Queen yesterday.

The Victims and Prisoners Bill was created to provide support to victims of crime, including survivors of domestic abuse, but as it stands, the funding allocated through the Bill will not do enough to create meaningful change. The total estimated cost for Part 1 of the Bill, which focuses on victims and survivors of crime, represents just 18% of the total funding commitments.

Domestic abuse services based in the community are essential for survivors, as they provide tailored support to survivors in their own home or a safe local setting, on both a long and short-term basis.

Despite the importance of community-based services, survivors face a postcode lottery in accessing support. In 2022, The Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office found that less than half of survivors who want to access community-based services are able to and last year 85% of frontline workers surveyed in Refuge’s Local Lifelines Report said their service is impacted by insufficient funding.

Proper investment into domestic abuse services is desperately needed to ensure that the 1 in 4 women who experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes are given the proper support that they need to rebuild their lives free from abuse and fear.

Refuge is therefore urging Peers to call on the Government to deliver on the Prime Minister’s promises to make violence against women and girls a priority, by amending the Victims and Prisoners Bill to provide additional funding of £238 million for community-based domestic abuse services.

We are pleased that the Government has listened to other recommendations from Refuge to remove named support roles, such as IDVAs and IGVAs, from the Victims and Prisoners Bill. Removing these will help ensure that all specialist support roles are recognised and that no roles go undervalued. Specialist support staff are imperative to delivering support in the community but for these services to operate, and for survivors to be supported, sustainable funding is essential.”