16 September 2016
MP urges family court to take stance on fathers who abuse women
Family courts need to stop believing the "myth" that men with a history of abusing women can be good fathers, an MP urges.
Labour's Angela Smith says the assumption is "discredited, and has no place in the justice system, arguing that research shows a frequent link between domestic abuse and violence against children.
Leading a backbench business debate, Ms Smith said: "Research indicates in fact that there are many serious negative impacts for children arising from domestic abuse, including children becoming aggressive or conversely over-compliant or becoming withdrawn, anxious and fearful."
Ms Smith is calling for the belief to be eradicated from our family courts.
"Abuse is about power and control," she added. "That's why it's not surprising that fathers who beat up women can also abuse children as well."
Justice Minister Dr Phillip Lee admitted that there has been insufficient data on trends within the family justice system but said evidence would form the basis of new policy in the future.
The Government is now working with the judiciary to consider what additional protections for vulnerable victims and witnesses may be necessary, he added.