Bishop's Stortford MP Julie Marson quizzes new domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales
Bishop’s Stortford’s MP Julie Marson has quizzed the domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales about new legislation.
Nicole Jacobs was appearing as a witness before a public bill committee at Westminster. When the new Domestic Abuse Bill is passed, she will stand up for victims and survivors, raise public awareness, monitor the response of local authorities, the justice system and other statutory agencies and hold them to account in tackling domestic abuse.
She formerly worked for Standing Together Against Domestic Violence, which is based in west London.
There are some 2.4 million victims of domestic abuse a year, aged 16 to 74, and two-thirds of them are women. More than one in 10 of all offences recorded by the police are related to domestic abuse.
The new Domestic Abuse Bill will create a statutory definition of domestic abuse, emphasising that abuse is not just physical violence but can also be emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic abuse.
Conservative Mrs Marson, who was elected to represent Hertford and Stortford in December, is a member of the scrutinising committee.
She asked: “I am interested in your views on the impact of having a statutory definition of domestic abuse for the first time. Also, can you give your views of your relative powers compared with some of the other existing commissioners, such as the Victims’ Commissioner or the Children’s Commissioner?”
Ms Jacobs said: “We cannot underestimate the need for that statutory definition; if I think that, for years and years, I have been training to what would have been an agreed cross-departmental definition, that is particularly welcome. That will have some effect, without any doubt, on any number of systems and services.
“The question was about the importance of having the statutory definition. Like I said earlier, I think it should include children.
"I really welcome the inclusion of economic abuse. We are seeing – particularly with Covid, it is coming up time and time again each week – people needing support for economic-related, financial abuses, and that is increasing quite substantially. It is a really important time to recognise that. One of the things we need in order to do that better would be to amend our coercion and control legislation to include post-separation abuse. That is incredibly important to consider and do.
“In relation to the powers of my role in comparison with other commissioners, I think I have said before that the Home Office has looked at various commissioners and has done quite a good job of thinking about what set of powers this office should have. They are relatively strong. The duty to respond to recommendations, and the ability to ask for information and have an expectation for co-operation – all those things compare quite well with other commissioners.”
The Domestic Abuse Bill was introduced in July 2019 and was given a Second Reading in October but then fell with the dissolution of Parliament. The Bill as reintroduced includes a number of changes, including the new duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims and their children in safe accommodation and an extension of the automatic prohibition on cross-examination in person in family proceedings.
More by this authorSinead Corr
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