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Amended Domestic Abuse Bill goes back to the Lords

The House of Lords is due to consider a near-final version of the Domestic Abuse Bill on 21 April, one of the last stages before it receives Royal Assent to become law.

The resulting debate and votes follow the House of Commons voting on Lords’ amendments to the proposed legislation and making changes of their own on 15 April.

The outcome of some of the MPs’ votes have caused anger, such as rejection of a Lords’ amendment to place serial domestic abusers and stalkers on the existing violent and sexual offenders’ register.

“Not enacting the perpetrators’ register is a gaping hole,” Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the home affairs select committee, was quoted as saying by The Independent.

“In too many cases when something really awful happens and you see a terrible case of violence against a woman or murder of a woman, there is a pattern and nobody has stepped in.”

Laura Richards, a former Met Police violent crime analyst who helped Cooper draw up the amendment, said of the government’s decision to vote against a serial perpetrators’ register: “They have misjudged the climate. Women are angry and have had enough of being treated like they don’t matter,” she added.

Charlotte Kneer, chief executive of Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid refuge in Surrey, said: “There is currently no monitoring of serial perpetrators. This is a common sense amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill that could save lives.

“It is devastating that with a landslide vote in the Lords, it was voted against. I genuinely don’t understand why they are voting against it. If the government is saying they are prioritising violence against women and girls, the vote shows their words don’t ring true.”

Lucy Hadley, spokeswoman for Women’s Aid, said the organisation is deeply disappointed MPs rejected the Lords’ amendments to give migrant women who have suffered domestic abuse equal protection.

“Just 4% of refuge vacancies in England in 2019/20 could accept a woman with no recourse to public funds due to her immigration status, and this means that migrant women and their children are turned away daily from the support that they need.”

Women’s Aid is also severely concerned a Lords’ amendment to make all family court judges undergo training on domestic abuse and sexual violence was rejected by MPs, she said.

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