The Domestic Abuse Bill is currently going through parliament and will shortly become law.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, has welcomed the Bill which will provide greater protections for victims and challenge the behaviour of perpetrators.
Dr Billings said: “The Bill is ground breaking because it creates a new legal definition of domestic abuse which makes it clear that children can also be victims.
“It also establishes in law a Domestic Abuse Commissioner who will take matters forward and champion the rights and needs of victims.
“The Bill places a legal duty on local authorities to provide refuge accommodation for adults and children and to support them there.
“While this too is welcome, it will have unintended consequences that need to be addressed before the Bill becomes law.
“Most people who are subject to abuse – more than 77% – do not want to leave the family home to go into a refuge with their children but want support at home from Independent Domestic Violence Advisors and other workers in therapeutic and counselling services.
“But these community-based services are not provided for in the Bill and this means, as things stand, that the majority of victims – who are principally women – and their children will be left with less support and protection.
“I hope the government will support a cross-party amendment to the Bill that will set this matter right.
“I already fund a number of these community-based services across South Yorkshire and know how vital their work is.
“If the Bill is to be truly effective in helping the victims of abuse it needs to support both accommodation-based and community-based services. If it doesn’t, then we run the risk of providing a two-tier service.”