Make hotel rooms available to victims of domestic abuse
A joint message from Dame Vera Baird QC, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales and Nicole Jacobs, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales has been issued calling upon the Government to urgently implement a scheme to allow those victims of domestic abuse who need to escape their home to be able to reside in suitable hotel rooms where refuges are full in their area.
The two commissioners sent a letter to hotel Chief Executives asking for them to help, with several indicating they would be receptive to the concept. In their letter the commissioners said: “Refuge remains the best place for victims and their children to flee to, but where forced to close due to Covid-19, or where demand outstrips supply, it is vital that victims have safe accommodation away from their abuser. Therefore, we call on you to offer a hotel in a publicly undisclosed place, free of charge, to women fleeing domestic abuse where they have been unable to access refuge.”
Dame Vera said:
“We have support for the premise from the charity sector and from the hospitality industry. I raised this with the Home Secretary last week, because it will only realistically work if the Government gets involved in helping to overcome any problems and prioritises this to protect those at serious risk from domestic abuse.
“I was impressed with the speed by which they acted to secure accommodation for homeless people, and we are calling for equally speedy action now to house those experiencing domestic abuse.
“Many victims will be worried that the social distancing rules prevent them from leaving their homes or that there is nowhere they can safely go. The Government must now to get involved now to make this plan a reality.”
Nicole Jacobs said:
“Refuges remain the best place for victims and their children, but as the pressure mounts on these services during the current pandemic – with many being full or forced to shut – alternative accommodation is required to help house domestic abuse victims fleeing abuse.
“The hospitality industry, with hotels across the UK with empty rooms, could work together with us to mitigate an escalating crisis in domestic abuse.
“Whilst we welcome the Government’s current and ongoing discussions with multiple hotel chains, a fast and appropriate resolution in these unprecedented times is a high priority.
“I encourage the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to seek expertise from the specialist Domestic Abuse sector to help shape this initiative.
“We need to communicate to victims experiencing abuse during lockdown that there are options and support available to them.”
The Government has already pledged additional money to charities supporting victims of domestic abuse after seeing a 25% rise in calls to helplines during the COVID-19 lockdown. No one should suffer from this and family solicitors round the country are working tirelessly to ensure legal measures are put in place to stop such abuse from continuing. If you are suffering please speak to one of our family solicitors in confidence on your situation and the options available to you.
Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.