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BASW submits response to the Domestic Violence Bill Consultation

As domestic violence and abuse can affect anyone, anywhere at any time, very few social workers will have no experience of working with either victims or survivors or perpetrators.

There were 83,136 high-risk domestic abuse cases discussed at multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARAC)1 in the year ending March 2017, equating to 36 cases per 10,000 adult females. A social worker will most likely have attended each one of these.

Thus, as the professional association of social workers, BASW has been involved with the Domestic Violence Bill Consultation.

BASW’s submission covered many areas and is available here.

In short, we agree with the proposed new statutory definition of domestic abuse put forward by the consultation.

However, there needs to be recognition within the new Bill that abusive and controlling behaviours can be present in relationships between adolescents younger than sixteen years old. The definition should be extended to cover any individual of secondary school age within a romantic or sexual relationship.

BASW members have said they are encouraged by this Government’s on-going commitment to improve Domestic Abuse legislation and prosecution within the broader Violence Against Women and Girls framework.

However, changes to legislation have be made in parallel with cuts to Local Authority funding which have made it increasingly difficult for councils to keep non-statutory services up and running.

Simply making domestic abuse provision statutory is not the answer either unless new duties are matched with new funding. 

In responding to this consultation, we have sought to stick to the proposals and associated questions, but we would urge officials to take more time to consider the needs of three specific groups of domestic abuse victims and survivors, including the elderly, individuals with no recourse to public funds because of their immigration status and services for the BAME community.