Charity boss hopes 2020 will see introduction of new domestic abuse bill
PUBLISHED: 15:04 11 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:04 11 January 2020
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The boss of a charity which helps abused partners and their children has called on the government to look at introducing a domestic abuse bill as a "matter of urgency".
Theresa May's government introduced the Domestic Abuse Bill in July last year, but its progress was halted when prime minister Boris Johnson suspended proceedings at Westminster ahead of the general election in December.
But now that Parliament has returned, Mandy Proctor chief executive officer of Leeway, which supports those suffering from domestic abuse in Norfolk and Suffolk, said to see the bill being adopted is her "main wish" for the year.
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She said: "It has been frustrating because the proposals will have a significant impact on the lives of those experiencing domestic abuse but, now parliament is back after a Christmas break, I hope it will be revisited as a matter of urgency.
"There are many people that desperately need the protections offered in the Bill and cannot afford to wait."
The Domestic Abuse Bill would place a legal duty on councils to offer secure homes for those fleeing violence, and their children while it also proposes the first government definition of domestic abuse, including financial abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour.
Ms Proctor said: "The policies proposed in the Bill will provide greater protections to those experiencing domestic abuse, reinforced by the introduction of a Domestic Abuse Commissioner who will oversee the national response to domestic abuse. This is an important role, providing a voice for victims and holding organisations to account where their response falls short.
"The bill will also place a legal duty on local authorities to fund refuge services, which I hope will tackle the postcode lottery for services and ensure that nobody is turned away from accessing support. Some areas of the country have been unable to run refuge services due to a lack of dedicated funding, meaning that they have been unable to access the support they need and have often stayed in their abusive relationship. The Bill must ensure that protections are in place for all victims of domestic abuse, whether they are accessing refuge, community-based support, or legal support."