THE Domestic Abuse Bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle the horrific crime of domestic abuse - so we must get this right.

As the UK’s largest children’s charity, we believe that the risks to children from domestic abuse have been heightened by the coronavirus lockdown with victims getting little or no respite from their abusers.

The impact of COVID-19 makes it even more important that the Domestic Abuse Bill - which had its Second Reading in the House of Commons last week - is strengthened to protect all victims including children, who are often the forgotten victims of domestic abuse.

Since the lockdown was announced on March 23, calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline are up by 49 per cent and domestic abuse killings are thought to have more than doubled. And when asked about the effects of the lockdown on the families they support, more than half of Barnardo’s frontline staff say they are concerned about an increase in family conflict and stress.

During the lockdown, children are hidden from the view of professionals like teachers and health visitors, who would usually be able to report any concerns.

The bill introduces a new duty on local authorities to provide support for victims in refuges. While we welcome this support, the bill does not go far enough.

We need the Government to ensure the bill includes a statutory duty on public authorities to provide support to all victims, including children, affected by domestic abuse.

Steve Oversby

Director of Barnardo’s North Region