In 1975 the Select Committee on Violence in Marriage recommended the provision of one refuge space per 10,000 head of the population. Today about 30 per cent of that figure, some 284 refuges, exist in England and Wales, many struggling to survive financially, at the whim of cuts to over-stretched local authority budgets.
Abused women and their children who cannot find places in a refuge suffer the traumas of being vulnerable to further abuse, and cost the State huge sums in childcare proceedings, children's homes and social work resources. More refuges, securely and adequately funded, would also greatly reduce expenses incurred by police, courts and the NHS.
The Home Affairs Select Committee published a report in February of this year, which recommended 'that the first priority for government action on domestic violence should be the establishment of a central, co-ordinated policy for refuge provision throughout the country'. The cross-party committee explained that 'this could well be the single greatest cost-saving measure that could be taken'.
We are still waiting for a response from the Government to our report. I do hope that the contributions to today's Lords debate will encourage ministers to implement these long-
MP for Hornsey and
Wood Green (Lab)
House of Commons
27 AprilReuse content