Domestic abusers – not their victims – to be moved from the family home?
In response to calls from charities and campaign groups, councils in England have been considering measures to provide housing for domestic abusers, allowing victims to remain living in the former matrimonial home.
The Domestic Abuse Act, which was recently passed by Parliament, compels councils to devise plans to provide housing support for victims and their children. Some Councils, such as Sunderland City Council, have created plans which include housing provision for perpetrators as well as victims.
According to Sunderland City Council’s draft proposals, “Women identified a key factor for their recovery would be the provision of alternative accommodation for the perpetrator”.
This builds on recent pilot schemes on London, North Yorkshire and the North East.
The plans have been welcomed by the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance which states that “without the option to remove and rehouse a perpetrator, victims… will continue to suffer by remaining trapped in abusive relationships or being forced to flee their homes”.
Not everyone is in favour of the proposals, however, and Women’s Aid are concerned that the plans may lead to women not feeling safe in their own homes, as the perpetrator would of course know the address and have the ability to come back. Women’s Aid would prefer efforts to be bolstered to improve the access to refuges, which, in their view, remain hugely underfunded.
Simeon Bowen-Fanstone, Solicitor at Sinclair Law commented: “It is clear that the Government recognises that more needs to be done to support victims of domestic abuse, and this is welcomed, however, there is no easy solution in terms of where funding should be allocated, and there is clearly pressure on existing refuges, which is, unfortunately, still leading to victims being turned away, due to capacity issues/lack of funding”.
The domestic abuse commissioner and victim’s commissioner have announced that the planned monitoring mechanism, which will aim to improve the way the family court responds to domestic abuse, will be implemented as a pilot starting in spring 2022
A key aim is to increase transparency and accountability, in terms of how allegations of domestic abuse are treated by the family court, so that survivors feel empowered to raise such issues confidently in the knowledge that the court will take them into full consideration.
The purpose of the monitoring is to report on the family court’s performance in terms of dealing with cases involving domestic abuse and general risk of harm in private law family matters.
The year-long pilot will result in the production of a report, which, once analysed, will detail how long-term monitoring can be achieved on a national scale.
At Sinclair Law, our team of experienced family solicitors have experience in advising and supporting victims of domestic violence, and there are protective applications that can be made to the Family Court, such as Non-Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders, both of which can be made on an emergency basis.
For a free 30-minute case-review, please contact us on 01625 526222