Chloe Smith MP has expressed support of the Government’s landmark Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, which has been published today and is open for public consultation. This comes after Chloe has worked for her murdered constituent, Kerri McAuley, by bringing the Home Office Minister for Domestic Abuse to Norwich to meet Kerri’s family and local experts who have valuable experience in the fight against domestic abuse, and by pressing the Minister to use the lessons from Kerri’s life and death in future legislation.
Today, on International Women’s Day, Government has launched the public consultation for its Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, marking the first step on the Bill’s journey to becoming law.
Victoria Akins, the Minister for Domestic Abuse, came to Norwich in January to meet with Kerri McAuley’s family and representatives from Leeway, Norfolk Police, and Norwich City Council. The meeting was chaired by Chloe Smith MP who has been working closely with Kerri McAuley’s family.
Chloe raised Kerri’s story with Victoria Atkins so that lessons can be learnt from Kerri’s story at a national level and directly influence real improvements in the law to ensure Kerri did not die in vain.
The consultation sets out the government’s approach to dealing with domestic abuse. It seeks to address it at every stage from prevention through to rehabilitation and reinforces the government’s aim to make domestic abuse everyone’s business. The consultation is wide-ranging and seeks views on both legislative proposals for a landmark draft Domestic Abuse Bill and a package of practical action.
The government’s main aim through this work is to prevent domestic abuse by challenging the acceptability of abuse and addressing the underlying attitudes and norms that perpetuate it.
This consultation asks questions under four main themes with the central aim of prevention running through each:
- promote awareness – to put domestic abuse at the top of everyone’s agenda, and raise public and professionals’ awareness
- protect and support – to enhance the safety of victims and the support that they receive
- pursue and deter – to provide an effective response to perpetrators from initial agency response through to conviction and management of offenders, including rehabilitation
- improve performance – to drive consistency and better performance in the response to domestic abuse across all local areas, agencies and sectors
Already the Government has taken action in this area; from the 8th January 2018, victims of domestic violence will get more support in taking abusive former partners to court. Changes to evidence requirements in private family law disputes have come into effect. There will no longer be a time limit on abuse evidence, which previously stood at five years. Additionally, the range of documents accepted as evidence of abuse has been widened to include statements from domestic violence support organisations and housing support officers.
In conjunction with her ongoing work with Victoria Atkins MP, Chloe Smith MP has been meeting with other victims of domestic abuse in Norfolk, to discuss their own experiences and ensure they are part of the consultation.
Chloe Smith MP is urging people now to come forward and take part in the Government’s consultation so that their experience counts. The details of the consultation can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/domestic-abuse-bill-consultation
“I urge anyone who’s been affected by domestic abuse locally to take part in this consultation now. It really matters. The murder of Kerri McAuley won’t be in vain if we can use Norwich and Norfolk experience to make the laws of the land better.
“I will continue working in Parliament on behalf of Kerri’s family, and others who’ve spoken out to me already, to improve law and action against domestic abuse. This is really important to me as a constituency MP.
“I welcome the bill being announced, especially on International Women’s Day. There are many sensible measures in it which I hope will mean more women, men and children can be safer from domestic abuse in the future.”