Supporting domestic abuse victims

I am delighted that both the Chief Executive and Chairperson of the RHCT have been confirmed in their positions. I am confident that under their leadership we will continue to see improvements at Treliske. Just like you, my family and I rely on our local NHS and I will continue to work hard to ensure that we receive our fair share of the significant additional funding that the government has committed to our NHS. 

Every day staff at Treliske, as well as those working in our community health and care services, will be working with people affected by domestic abuse – fellow members of staff as well as patients and their families. Domestic abuse affects many more people than you might imagine, people from all walks of life and backgrounds.  

This week the government launched the draft Domestic Abuse Bill and a package of 120 non-legislative measures to support victims and survivors of abuse and to stop the cycle of violence. With 2 million victims of domestic abuse last year, this is much-needed. This is a huge and very positive piece of work across national and local government.  

For many years, I have been working with a wide range of victims of domestic violence and organisations that support them, not only to do what I can to support them, but to campaign for changes to ‘the system’. Together, we have made some improvements, but this Bill brings together many of the most needed changes that will have a really positive impact on many people here and across the country. 

This Bill sets out a wide range of actions and here are just a few highlights: setting out in law the first cross-government definition of domestic abuse, including non-violent behaviour such as economic abuse; new, streamlined protection orders for victims and their children, including the powers to impose positive and negative requirements to stop the perpetrator; supporting victims in court through prohibiting cross-examination by perpetrators in family courts and granting special measures automatically in criminal courts; appointing a Domestic Abuse Commissioner whose sole focus will be tackling domestic abuse and ensuring good standards of services across country; more and better training for police, health professionals, Job Centre staff, housing officers and other frontline workers to help identify and support victims; improving and rolling out Op Encompass to all schools so that teachers know before the school day starts that a child in their care has witnessed domestic abuse the night before and put in place appropriate support. 

I have the privilege of working with local people delivering some excellent services for victims of domestic abuse in Cornwall and inspirational people breaking free of their abusers. I will be arranging meetings with all those organisations and people that I have been working with to review this draft Bill. I will work hard to secure any further changes identified. If you would like to contribute to my work on this important Bill, please do not hesitate in contacting me. 

First published in the West Briton 24/01/19