Tag Archives: Carl Sargeant

Domestic Abuse [Wales] Bill

The Welsh government announced this week plans to introduce a Domestic Abuse [Wales] Bill as part of the new legislative agenda.

The Bill, the first of its kind in the UK, will introduce a statutory requirement for all local authorities to have a violence against women strategy in place on a local level.

The Bill will be introduced during the 2013/14 legislative year.

Addressing the National Assembly on Monday First Minister Carwyn Jones said:

“This Government wants to do more to tackle the social problems of domestic abuse. We will introduce in the next two years the Domestic Abuse (Wales) Bill, designed to place a duty on relevant public sector bodies to have a domestic abuse and ‘violence against women strategy’ in place.  The Bill will not seek to address criminal justice issues.  Rather the purpose of the provisions will be concerned with social welfare and the prevention, protection and support elements of a domestic abuse and violence against women strategy.”

[Statement in full]

A representative from the Wales Violence Against Women Action Group said:

“We are also absolutely delighted that the First Minister announced a Domestic Abuse Bill, and hope that it will seek to tackle all forms of VAW and ensure that all main VAW services are statutory at a local level.

“Carl Sargeant, the Minister for Local Government and Communities has clearly taken on board our representations that services to help women who suffer violence are a postcode lottery in Wales. He clearly agrees with us that these services must be protected, even when finances are difficult.

“His support is very welcome, and we look forward to working with him over the next year or two to help deliver better services and a new bill to better protect women in Wales.”


Steps to Safety: snapshot of progress made in Wales to tackle violence against women

In 2010 the Welsh Government launched a six year strategy, called a Right to be safe, to tackle violence against women. A progress report,  Steps to Safety, has been published by the Wales Violence against Women Action Group [Wales VAW] to give a snapshot of progress made. 

 

Among the positive steps taken, the action group welcomes  the campaign launched by the WG last year to challenge attitudes towards violence against women [started in June with the One step too far campaign and followed by the Stop Blame campaign at Christmas] .

They also welcomed

  • better services for trafficked victims and improved co-ordination
  • a booklet for health professionals on FGM and some training provided on forced marriage

But while many of the aims labelled as tackling policy and prevention were in progress or completed, for many  of the “protection” and “provision” aims were labelled as having “no progress” made.

There was a lack of progress in areas including;

  • tackling the postcode lottery
  • providing secure funding for key services
  • ensuring someone in every school is trained to advise young women
  • working effectively across all Welsh Government departments and with the UK Government

Naomi Brightmore, Chair of the Wales VAW Action Group said:

“Carl Sargeant has demonstrated his political commitment to tackling violence against women, but turning a government strategy into real impacts on the ground is proving tricky.

“Though we can see that there are areas where progress has been made, the strategy contains no measureable targets or outcomes, so we cannot say that women in Wales are safer in 2011 than they were in 2010 – and that is surely what we are all working towards.

“Our member organisations tell us that the squeeze on public finances is making service provision on the ground even more patchy – so we are calling on the Minister to put even more pressure on the relevant public bodies.”

According to Ms Brightmore, in one month in Wales,

  • 150 women enter refuge following abuse, with 160 turned away.
  • Some 35 sexual assault cases will be taken to court.
  • Over 150 victims of rape or sexual abuse will seek counselling, help and support from the voluntary sector.
  • Five women will be victims of trafficking and 3 will report forced marriage.
  • It is quite likely that a woman will die this month at the hands of a family member or partner.

Paula Hardy, CEO of Welsh  Women’s Aid, said:

“We have seen some excellent progress over the past year, including the delivery of two innovative publicity campaigns, the expansion of the Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline (which WWA manages) to also support survivors of sexual violence, and publication of new guidance for teachers to deliver PSE lessons on domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women.

“We have welcomed the clear commitment to ending gender-based violence from the Minister of Communities and Local Government,  including the protection of the violence against women budget within his department.

“However, it is disappointing that this commitment is not matched across all Welsh Government departments, despite The Right to be Safe being billed as a ‘cross-departmental, integrated strategy’. Domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence affect all areas of a woman’s life, and all departments need to be engaged.

“Changes to vital funding streams in other departments, such as Supporting People funding in the Housing department, could have a detrimental impact to our 31 member groups across Wales, who provided refuge-based support for 1761 women and 1421 children and young people last year. We are also concerned at the lack of funding available for vital work with children and young people affected by domestic abuse.

“We are also concerned that there remain significant gaps between national policy and local delivery in this area. We need local authorities to understand that tackling violence against women is a national priority – and this should be enforced by legislation if needs be.”

There will be a debate in the Senedd on the issue of domestic violence at about 5pm this afternoon.