Domestic violence bill does not protect children, warns expert

The government’s proposals to tackle domestic violence fail to
adequately protect children from abusive fathers, a domestic abuse
expert warned this week, writes Amy

Speaking at a conference on children and young people in
Manchester, Alan Coombe, a policy and practice manager at
children’s charity Barnardo’s, said that the Domestic Violence,
Crime and Victims Bill, “fell short” of addressing the needs of

The bill, published last December, did not look at the issues
surrounding children’s contact with their fathers granted by the
family courts in cases where there have been allegations or
concerns about abuse in the home. A significant number of these
fathers went on to kill their children, he warned.

Risk assessments should be introduced and children themselves
needed to be listened to in order to tackle this problem, Coombe
urged. Sufficient time should be given to the child to enable them
to open up and talk about their situation and all contact with
fathers should be supervised to ensure children’s safety.

However, Coombe said he had received reassurances from the home
secretary David Blunkett and children’s minister Margaret Hodge
that the effect of domestic violence on children would not fall
into a gap between their departments and would be addressed in
forthcoming legislation.

He went on to criticise the low level of government funding
allocated to refuges for women fleeing domestic violence. “The
government is quite happy to celebrate what women’s refuges are
doing, but the level of funding is that the childcare that refuges
provide does not meet Ofsted standards. Frankly that is a complete

Coombe called on the Home Office and the Department for
Education and Skills to “get their act together right now” and
address the issue.


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