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Dame Vera Baird QC joins over 120 MPs calling for an inquiry into abusive access to children

15th May 2019

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird has given her support to a letter urging the government to hold an inquiry into how family courts in England and Wales treat victims of abuse.

Startling figures show that at least four children, in the past five years, have been killed by a parent to whom the family courts had expressly ordered contact. Dozens of other parents told the Victoria Derbyshire show that their abusive ex-partners had been granted contact without any supervision in place to protect their child.

The letter to the Secretary of State for Justice, Rt Hon David Gauke MP  has cross party support of over 120 MPs, the Victims Commissioner, women’s Aid and End Violence Against Women Coalition and calls for an independent inquiry into the family courts “to establish the extent of the problem and if more fundamental reform is needed”.

Dame Vera Baird said “This seems evidence of a wide spread failure by the family courts to take domestic abuse nearly seriously enough. It is also a failure to appreciate that children are not merely witnesses to domestic violence but are victims themselves. They are undoubtedly damaged by domestic abuse and a domestic abuser should not be presumed to be a good parent”

As the Shadow Policing Minister, Louise Haigh states, it is horrifying that even in proven cases of sexual assault, severe domestic abuse, rape, murder in some cases, men are still being encouraged and granted access to their child.

Dame Vera added “The family court needs to have a better understanding of these type of cases, and appreciate the affect their decisions will have on the mother and the child.  The Justice system in this areas needs urgent attention”.