The Government stated its intention Wednesday to include a strategic approach to domestic abuse perpetrators as part of a wider domestic abuse strategy due later this year. The commitment came as Lords debated an amendment which would have put a legal requirement for a perpetrator strategy into the Bill.
This represents a significant victory for the campaign for a domestic abuse perpetrator strategy launched a year ago in parliament and backed by MPs and peers from all political parties as well as over 125 organisations and experts outside parliament including survivors of domestic abuse, academics, charities, local authorities and police and crime commissioners.
Summing up for the government, Home Office Minister, Baroness Williams of Trafford, acknowledged the need for a perpetrator strategy, an improved response to perpetrators and increased provision of effective perpetrator interventions. She said the government did not need it put into law in order to do it:
“What we are not persuaded of is the need for an inflexible legislative requirement for a perpetrator strategy, but the Government of course endorse the need for such a strategy. Indeed, I can inform the Committee that, later this year, the Government will bring forward a new, ambitious strategy to tackle the abhorrent crime of domestic abuse. This strategy will be holistic in its approach to tackling domestic abuse and will outline our ambitions not only to prevent offending but to protect victims and ensure that they have the support they need. It is right that we have a strategy that takes a holistic approach to tackling domestic abuse.”
She later said:
“We do not need to put it [the amendment for a perpetrator strategy] in the Bill, because you are always restricted by primary legislation. But I voiced my intention that the Government want to do this.”
The amendment, tabled by Baroness Gabby Bertin, a former Director of External Relations at No. 10, and supported by both the Labour and Liberal Democrat frontbenches, called for a fully-funded domestic abuse perpetrator strategy and the further rollout of evidence-based interventions to prevent and end domestic abuse by responding to perpetrators. A very similar amendment was also tabled by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath.
Baroness Bertin explained in Parliament why she had tabled the amendment:
“For years perpetrators have barely been mentioned in political debate, as if domestic abuse simply appears from thin air. Only with robust action on perpetrators can we put an end to domestic abuse, which is why the Government urgently need to publish and fund a comprehensive strategy for England and Wales.”
Kyla Kirkpatrick, Director of Drive, said:
“We sincerely thank the peers who have won this commitment from government to include a strategic approach to perpetrators within the forthcoming domestic abuse plans. This in turn needs to sit within a violence against women framework. We stand with over 125+experts and organisations who spearheaded this campaign. Together, we are looking for a comprehensive and ambitious plan that can deliver real and lasting change for adult and child victims of domestic abuse. We look forward to working with the government on the detail.
Thank you to Baroness Bertin, Baroness Burt, Lord Kennedy, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath and Lord Strasburger for their leadership on this and to Lord Paddick, Lady Wyld, Lord Early of Lytton, Baroness Eaton, Lord Rooker, Baroness Finn, Lord Polak, Lord Farmer and Lord McCrea who voiced their support for the amendments. We also wish to acknowledge the many peers who spoke of the need to strengthen the risk management of perpetrators as part of a debate on potential reforms to MAPPA.
We hope this marks a turning point in government’s ambitions to prevent domestic abuse in the first place, to hold those who are causing harm to account and support anyone who wants to change their behaviour with quality assured interventions.”