Domestic Abuse Bill must recognise children as victims

The UK Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill, which is currently undergoing a review, must do more to recognise and protect children as victims through the family court processes, says the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert.

The Commissioner is supporting proposed amendments to the Bill which would remove the presumption that continued contact with an abusive parent is in the child’s best interest.

It would also prohibit unsupervised contact for a parent awaiting trial or on bail for domestic abuse offences, or where there are ongoing criminal proceedings for domestic abuse.

Jeff Cuthbert said: “I fully support these proposed amendments to the UK Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill which seek to end a situation that often treats domestic abuse in the home as a separate issue to a child’s safety and welfare.

“We know that growing up in a home where domestic abuse is happening can seriously harm a child’s mental health and can, in some cases, make them more likely to become involved with crime and antisocial behaviour.

“Not only would these new measures keep children safe, they will help to protect survivors, who are often forced to maintain contact with their abuser to facilitate the abuser’s contact with their child.

“We take the issue of children as victims of domestic abuse very seriously and Gwent Police is the only Welsh force to have Operation Encompass embedded across the whole organisation. We are also about to begin an in-depth review of the support available for children who have been affected by domestic abuse.”

The Bill is currently being examined in the House of Lords.