A Church expert on domestic abuse has urged the Government to commit to the funding of women’s refuges after proposed changes put over half of them at risk.
Nikki Dhillon-Keane, a member of the Domestic Abuse Working Group which was originally set up by the Bishops’ Conference and is now a part of Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN), welcomed the Government’s consultation on the proposed Domestic Abuse Bill.
However, while pointing out the positive elements of the Bill, Ms Dhillon-Keane raised concerns over proposed changes to refuges, which would leave over half of them at risk of closure.
“Due to the Government’s proposed changes to the way refuges are funded, there are a large number at risk of closure,” Ms Dhillon-Keane told The Universe.
“It is incredibly important that the Government commits to funding these life-saving resources as well as making the legal changes proposed in the bill, particularly as there are already not enough refuges to meet the current need, with women being turned away from refuges every day.”
A Government consultation on the Domestic Abuse Bill was published last week. It could see perpetrators banned from drinking alcohol and electronically tagged under the Government crackdown, while new civil orders will expand the restrictions the courts can impose on criminals who torment partners and spouses.
Perpetrators could be required to attend parenting programmes or drug and alcohol treatment to reduce the risk of them carrying out further abuse.
For the first time courts will be given express powers to impose electronic monitoring as a condition of the proposed Domestic Abuse Protection Orders (DAPOs).
“I am encouraged to see the Government consulting with experts and survivors on the Bill. It has some very positive elements which have potential to create meaningful changes to the way victims/survivors of domestic abuse are protected,” said Ms Dhillon-Keane.
The national domestic abuse helpline number is 0808 2000 247
Read more on this story in this week’s Universe, available now.
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Picture: A staged image on domestic violence: A woman attempts to protect herself from a violent man. (Maurizio Gambarini/dpa).