Crucial moment for ministers to listen to experts and recognise children’s experiences in the Domestic Abuse Bill1
Contacts to our helpline about the impact of domestic abuse on children have increased by 32% since the start of the lockdown, to an average of one an hour.2
Increased risks during the crisis further highlight the need for the government to amend the law to recognise how violence and coercive control can affect children and that they must have access to specialist support to recover.
The Domestic Abuse Bill is at committee stage and in its current form fails to recognise the needs of children affected by domestic abuse despite repeated calls from multiple experts, including the Domestic Abuse, Children’s and Victim’s Commissioners, as well as the Home Affairs Select Committee.
New analysis of 11 serious case reviews, submitted to MPs as they are set to scrutinise the Bill this week, shows children have been seriously harmed and even died because domestic abuse was not always considered to be a child protection issue.3
Since the lockdown 1,500 adults contacted the NSPCC Helpline about the risks to children who are trapped behind closed doors. 58% led to referrals or a referral update to the local authority.4
In some cases, fears about the virus were exploited to withhold access to children, cut off contact to family and friends, and monitor movement under the pretext of keeping them safe from the virus. Those affected said this made it difficult to leave and speak out.
We are also calling for a statutory duty for local agencies to deliver specialist community-based services for these children to recover.