UKABIF has second discussion with Minister over Domestic Abuse Issues
29 September 2020
Posted by: Web Admin
On 15th September, UKABIF was pleased to be involved in a discussion with Victoria Atkins MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office with responsibility for safeguarding, Chris Bryant MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Acquired Brain Injury and Lord Ramsbotham, Vice-Chair of the Criminal Justice Acquired Brain Injury Interest Group. Also at the meeting were representatives from NHS England, Ministry of Justice, Department of Health and Social Care. Ms Atkins thanked Chris Bryant for the amendments he put down on the Domestic Abuse Bill and assured him that she recognised the impact of ABI on people in the criminal justice system. While the amendments had not been taken forward by the government, she was pleased to share that a number of practical steps had been taken to address the issues raised with regard to the proposed new clauses 13 and 14.
Regarding clause 13:
Victoria Atkins proposed that new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders (DAPOs) could potentially be used as a route to screening. For example, they could include in statutory guidance for DAPOs a recommendation that police refer victims to an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor or other community based Domestic Violence service, who can then screen. There will be consultation on draft DAPO guidance during the Lords stages of the Bill.
Regarding clause 14:
In prisons, all people in prison accommodation must receive an early screening within 24 hours of entry followed by a more detailed, personal screening within 7 days. The aims of the first assessment are to ensure that immediate health needs are identified and addressed, including a standard requirement for questions on head injury and loss of consciousness. The latter screening includes questions on domestic or other physical violence. During Q4 of 2019-2020, 99% prisoners underwent a first screening and 89% underwent a second screening. The figures for Q1 of 2020 are not available and are likely to be affected by the impact of Covid-19. When a brain injury has been identified they may be referred to the NHS for a more detailed assessment, including out-patients appointments and scans. The screening is statutory, forming part of clinical standards. The questions in the screening were designed by clinical practitioners and will be reviewed on an annual basis. Kate Davies, (Director of Health and Justice for NHS England who is national director of commissioning, for healthcare services in prisons amongst other areas) undertook to work with Lord Ramsbotham and Chris Bryant to review the questions next year. The screening will not currently apply in five private prisons but NHS England have made a submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review to include NHS healthcare such in establishments.
In the community, Headway training has been extended by NHS England from liaison and diversion services to the prison estate. It was also noted that the Secretary of State for Justice is keen to create a neurodiversity pathway in the Criminal Justice System which would include ABI as well as autism and dyslexia. The Ministry of Justice has put in a bid to the Comprehensive Spending Review to raise awareness and understanding for neurodiverse needs. They have announced a call for evidence around neurodiversity and how effective related interventions are.
Chris Bryant MP and Lord Ramsbotham agreed that it would be helpful to move the amendments in the Lords to enable discussion to take place about the steps the government has taken to address the issues raised.
The Department for Health and Social Care are in the process to ensure that GPs are trained to be alert to ABI related to domestic abuse as well as non-professional medical services.
UKABIF are very pleased to have worked with members of the Criminal Justice Acquired Brain Injury Interest Group, including The Disabilities Group, to take these issues forward and look forward to reporting back on future progress.