National charities have welcomed proposals for the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill and a Domestic Violence Commissioner, but say more funding is needed to save lives.
Home Secretary David Blunkett has promised "the biggest overhaul of the law on domestic violence since the 1970s". Under the proposals, local agencies will conduct reviews of domestic violence and murder in order to learn lessons, and civil law will be strengthened to extend protection from harassment to same-sex and non-cohabiting couples. The Bill will also give the police new powers to deal with perpetrators of domestic violence.
"We're delighted the issue has moved up the political agenda," said Myra Johnson, policy and communications manager for Women's Aid. "However, there is a real problem of funding for all services such as refuges, outreach work and helplines. There is barely any money for children's services, and it's getting worse."
Refuge chief executive Sandra Horley added: "Britain has one of the worst records when it comes to providing funding for life-saving services for abused women and children. It is essential that the Government addresses this."