By Joseph Willits
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Yesterday in the Commons, Home Secretary Theresa May reaffirmed her commitment to tackling and ending domestic violence, stating that the Government had fulfilled its pledge. Asked by Devizes MP Claire Perry, about the ways in which the Government was trying to deal with domestic violence against women, May cited a "cross-Government action plan on tackling violence against women and girls", published in March by the Home Office. May said:
"It includes 88 commitments from 12 Departments to improve the provision of services for victims of violence and to prevent violence from happening in the first place. We have already delivered 22 of those commitments."
Perry spoke of the successes of a pilot scheme running in Swindon and Wiltshire, "in which perpetrators of domestic violence are effectively banned from the family home, rather than the family and the women being forced to move out, as happened previously". Due to the scheme, she said, "82 abusive perpetrators have been removed from family homes", and had been "reaching women who have never been helped before" according to the head of Wiltshire victim support unit said that the programme. The BBC reported in November that 65 Domestic Violence Protection Notices and Orders (DVPN/DVPO) had been issued.
After being asked by Perry to "tell us when the pilot might be rolled out nationally", May responded cautiously, saying that primarily pilot schemes had been issued in Greater Manchester, West Mercia and Wiltshire, "and a second wave of pilot areas started in October in Grater Manchester and West Mercia". The schemes would be run for at least a year before being assessed properly, she said. May agreed with Perry that the domestic violence protection orders had the "right" focus, ensuring "that when a domestic violence incident takes place it is the perpetrator who is not able to stay in the home, rather than the victim being forced out."
Labour MP Stella Creasy, said "the Opposition welcome press reports this weekend that the Deputy Prime Minister wants to widen the definition of domestic violence", and would support the Home Office "if they wish to challenge the actions of their colleagues in the Ministry of Justice, who are seeking to restrict access to legal aid for victims of domestic violence".
Whilst May did respond to Creasy's second pledge of support, she said the "Government are consulting on the appropriate definition and ensuring that we have a cross-Government definition", adding that this was something that "sadly, the previous Labour Government did not have."
Tory MP for Lincoln Karl McCartney asked Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone about the Government's progress in tackling domestic violence against men. Featherstone responded:
"Later this week, we will launch a fund of £225,000 over two years to support services focusing explicitly on male victims of sexual and domestic violence. That is in addition to the Home Office funding provided each year to the men’s advice line, which provides support and signposting services for male victims, and to Broken Rainbow, which provides support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims."