Councillor Jean Crossby moved the motion which was seconded by Councillor Mo Saqib.
Councillor Tom Drummond moved an amendment which was seconded by Councillor Ryan Stoneman. The amendment was carried.
Following debate, the substantive motion was put to the vote and carried.
Council notes that:
1. According to Office for National Statistics data for England & Wales, in the year ending March 2019 an estimated 2.4 million adults aged 16 to 74 experienced domestic abuse.
2. Police recorded 746,219 domestic abuse-related crimes in the year ending March 2019 - an increase of 24% on the previous year.
3. Police made 32 arrests per 100 domestic abuse-related crimes in the year ending March 2019, equating to 214,965 arrests (in the 39 police forces supplying data).
4. In 2018/19, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), 98,470 domestic violence suspects were referred to the CPS by the police and a decision to charge was made in 68.4% of cases - a fall from 2017/18.
Council welcomes cross-party work on the Domestic Abuse Bill which aims to:
5. Introduce a new definition of domestic abuse to the law of England and Wales.
6. Extend the availability of “special measures” for complainants in criminal cases involving domestic abuse to support intimidated witnesses.
7. Put on a statutory footing the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme which lets police disclose information about partners or ex-partners of individuals at risk of domestic abuse.
8. Grant a new secure ‘lifetime’ tenancy to certain victims of domestic abuse.
9. Prohibit perpetrators of abuse from cross-examining victims in family courts in certain circumstances.
Council further notes:
10.Tackling domestic abuse is an urgent priority of The Sutton Plan after 2017 data revealed that domestic violence accounted for over a third of violent incidents in the borough and that Sutton had the 12th highest number of domestic violence reports in London.
11.The Domestic Abuse Transformation Programme was launched, with £1.25 million invested over three years to improve awareness and services relating to domestic abuse, including early intervention and prevention, such as working with schools and the ‘Not Alone In Sutton’ campaign.
12.The invaluable work of staff and volunteers at Cranstoun, Sutton Women's Centre, Home Start Sutton, Jigsaw 4U, The Limes college and Hestia.
Council believes Government action can and must be strengthened by:
13.Guaranteeing funding for specialist services is adequate and sustained as 60% of total referrals to refuges were turned away in 2017/18 (Women’s Aid).
14.Ensuring that the role of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner is full-time rather than part-time and should report to the Cabinet Office, not the Home Office.
15.Exempting survivors from local connection tests in social housing allocation as over two-thirds of women in refuges come from another local authority.
16.Introducing a wider mandatory ban on perpetrators of domestic abuse cross-examining their victims in family courts.
17.Providing additional support for women facing multiple forms of discrimination and an end to immigration controls that prevent survivors seeking help.
Council will therefore:
18.Review its existing strategy, through the Safer Sutton Partnership Board, to tackle domestic abuse and violence.
19.Call on the Leader of the Council to write to the borough’s two MPs asking them to ensure all the above points are addressed in the Domestic Abuse Bill when it is next debated in Parliament.
20.This council also notes the work done by Paul Scully MP as a member of the cross party Public Bill Committee on the Domestic Abuse Bill 2019-20 and supports his initiative #unmaskthenarc.