Home Affairs Committee

Domestic Violence, Forced Marriage and "Honour"-Based Violence

Government response to the Committee's report

The Government today published its response to the Committee's recent report into Domestic Violence, Forced Marriage and "Honour"-Based Violence (Session 2007-08 HC 263).

The Committee welcomes the Government's speedy response on these very important subjects, and its recognition of the report's "important observations and constructive recommendations".

The Government has accepted some of the Committee's recommendations, including those on using third party information in informing the Forced Marriage Unit and immigration authorities about cases of forced marriage; the development of standard definitions for local authorities in assessing children 'missing' from education; commissioning research on the relationship between trends of forced marriage and data collected by schools; the development and routine distribution of forced marriage publicity materials in schools; and research on the effectiveness of Sanctuary Schemes.

It has not announced that it will take forward other recommendations, including those on committing to a co-ordinated strategy of public awareness-raising; on a full investigation to determine the risks posed to children by unsupervised contact in domestic violence cases; on increasing resources to ensure availability of Probation Service perpetrator programmes; and on stronger guidance to local authorities about the commissioning and funding processes under programmes such as Supporting People.

Committee Chairman Keith Vaz MP said:

"We are pleased that the Government has accepted some of the Committee's recommendations. We also welcome the Government announcements, made during the course of our inquiry, on changes to those victims with 'no recourse to public funds', and on implementation of section 9 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (homicide reviews)."

"However we are disappointed to see that the Government has chosen not to take forward other recommendations, especially those around stronger guidance on commissioning and funding services at the local level and on increasing availability of perpetrator programmes. We also consider the Government's comments on our overarching conclusion - that the Government response remains disproportionately focussed on criminal justice responses at the expense of prevention - to be confusing. Whilst the Government acknowledges that "there is more to do in relation to prevention", the actions it lists - multi-agency risk assessment conferences and routine enquiry - are in our view measures to identify abuse already taking place, not to prevent its occurrence."

"We very much look forward to receiving the promised update in September against those recommendations on which the Government has pledged to undertake further consideration and discussion with delivery partners . The Committee will consider at that point what, if any, further action to take."