Sutton Council calls for stronger Government action to tackle domestic abuse

Summer domestic abuse campaign
Sutton Domestic Abuse campaign

Published Friday, 24th January 2020

Sutton Council has called on the Government to ensure the Domestic Abuse Bill receives proper backing and scrutiny when it is next debated in Parliament.

In 2017, the Council and its partners launched an ambitious programme, to tackle domestic abuse in Sutton. The Sutton Plan partners agreed to make this work a priority after data revealed that domestic violence accounted for over a third of violent incidents in the borough. The Council has since invested £1.25 million over three years, working alongside local schools, residents, volunteers, and organisations to deliver a comprehensive plan and public campaign - ‘Not Alone in Sutton’. 

At the Council meeting held on 20 January 2020, a motion calling for stronger action from the Government was proposed by Liberal Democrat councillors and passed with unanimous backing. The Leader of the Council will now formally write to the borough’s two MPs to call on them to ensure that the Government deliver a fit for purpose Domestic Abuse Bill to address the problem at a national level.  

Councillor Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council, said: 

“Domestic abuse is a nationwide issue, and I’m glad Sutton Council is calling on the government to take stronger action to tackle it. In Sutton, our ambitious programme has already improved the way we are working with partners to deliver domestic abuse services in the borough.

This is a vital piece of work towards ensuring that Sutton remains a great place to live, work and raise a family. But, however much we deliver at a local level, there is still a clear need for national action. I’m pleased that the Council has added its voice to the calls for proper debate of the the Domestic Abuse Bill in parliament.”

Figures show that domestic abuse is an issue that affects the whole of the UK: 

  • 2.4 million adults were victims of domestic abuse in the year ending March 2019
  • Over 200,000 arrests were made for domestic abuse related crimes
  • Over 60% of the total referrals to refuges were turned away in 2017/2018 (Women’s Aid).

The Council has called for the Government to:

  • Guarantee funding for specialist services (such as refuges)
  • Ensure that the role of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner is full-time
  • Grant a new secure ‘lifetime’ tenancy to certain victims of domestic abuse
  • Exempt survivors from local connection tests in social housing allocation
  • Introduce a wider mandatory ban on perpetrators of domestic abuse cross-examining their victims in family courts.
  • Provide additional support for women facing multiple forms of discrimination and an end to immigration controls that prevent survivors seeking help.
  • The Council welcomes the continuing cross-party work on the Domestic Abuse Bill.

The Council will now:

  • Review its existing strategy, through the Safer Sutton Partnership Board, to tackle domestic abuse and violence
  • Write to the borough’s two MPs asking them to ensure all the above points are addressed in the Domestic Abuse Bill when it is next debated in Parliament.
  • Note the work done by Paul Scully MP as a member of the cross party Public Bill Committee on the Domestic Abuse Bill 2019-20 and supports his initiative #unmaskthenarc.