Updates to Domestic Abuse Bill Called For To Protect Migrant Women

23/02/2021

Recently there have been calls to update the Domestic Abuse Bill to remove data ‘blind spots’ that could discourage migrant women from reporting domestic abuse to the police for fear of deportation or enable perpetrators of domestic abuse to control their victims.

The amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill, if passed, would prevent police from sharing personal data about domestic abuse victims with the Home Office for immigration control purposes.

When explaining the amendment in the Lords, Baroness Meacher said: 

 “Migrant women with insecure immigration status are, in my view very understandably, reluctant to report domestic abuse to the statutory services. Would you, one might ask, particularly to the police? This reluctance is due to the current data-sharing agreements between statutory services, including the police and the Home Office, for immigration control purposes. This means that women affected cannot seek support or a safe place to go, with the most appalling consequences, as one can very easily imagine. Perpetrators are not being brought to justice.”

The Lord Bishop of London said freedom of information requests revealed that 60% of police forces share victims’ details with the Home Office.

It was further said by Lord Bishop, that she feared that this blind spot is enabling offenders and abusers to use police involvement as a threat to their victims, rather than the source of protection that it should be. She added: 

 “Various countries around the world have demonstrated that firewalls can be and are being implemented in different ways to create separation between public services and immigration enforcement.”

Baroness Wilcox of Newport said: 

“It is imperative that the government and public agencies understand that when victims leave an abusive situation and report abuse, they are more likely to be harmed or murdered by the perpetrator. It is therefore essential that the government put in place a safe reporting mechanism and put an end to data-sharing policies when victims approach the police.”

The bill is expected to complete its passage through parliament by the spring. 

Are the continued restrictions and lockdowns affecting domestic abuse victims and their ability to access the help they need? 

It is feared that the continued lockdown restrictions have been putting those individuals and families at risk of domestic abuse and violence, even more at danger due to further challenges in accessing confidential support, emergency legal protection or advice and refuge.

Our specialist family law solicitors at Russell and Russell Solicitors have the expert knowledge and experience to deal with sensitive domestic abuse cases and can provide advice and guidance on matters such as injunction proceedings or occupation orders and we are on hand to guide you through your legal rights sensitively and confidentially.  

If you need urgent legal advice outside of office hours, you can also contact our 24hour Family Law Emergency Advice Line: 01204 847999

However, if you find yourself in danger; we urge you to contact the police. If you call the police but you feel it is too dangerous to talk, by pressing ‘55’ after calling the emergency services, the police will still respond. Silent solution 55 is the name given to the initiative that allows people to call 999 even when they are not able to speak. This will mean that the call will still be put through to the police and they will be notified that you are in a situation that makes talking or whispering difficult.

Some other important contacts for support and help include:

  • Refuge 24 hour helpline: 0808 2000 247
  • Womens Aid: helpline@womensaid.org.uk
  • 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247
  • Men’s Advice Line: 0808 8010327 
  • Survivors' Forum is an online resource for survivors of domestic abuse. The Survivors’ Forum can be accessed 24/7. This is a place where survivors can support each other and share their experiences.

 

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