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PEERS voted today to protect victims of domestic abuse from having their details shared with the Home Office in order to shield them from immigration enforcement.
In a report-stage debate on the Domestic Abuse Bill, the Lords voted 321 to 262 in favour of an amendment that would offer more safeguards against deportation to victims of violent and coercive behaviour by limiting information passing from the police to the Home Office.
Ahead of the vote, Baroness Crawley (Labour) said that abusers “commonly use women’s fear of immigration enforcement and separation from their children to control them.” Migrant women with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) face financial abuse as well as extra barriers in seeking help, she argued.
She said that that “safe pathways should be established for migrant women to report abuse” but that these calls to the government have “fallen on deaf ears.”
Baroness Butler-Sloss (cross-bench) said it “shows an astonishing unfeeling and callous approach” that someone is twice victimised by threat of deportation when they seek help over domestic abuse.
Baroness Hamwee (Liberal Democrat) said that the sharing of data between the police and the Home Office ought to be a “matter of individual consent.”
She backed an amendment that would stop police sharing information with the Home Office for migrant women abused by their partners, as well as give migrant victims of domestic abuse an exemption to NRPF in order to allow them access public services.
Baroness Jones of Moulescoomb (Green) said it is a “particularly nasty part of the Data Protection Act of 2018” which contained provisions that allowed “near unlimited sharing” of personal data for the purpose of immigration enforcement.
Peers also spoke in favour of allowing victims of abuse to stay in their social-housing home. A vote on this amendment was due after the Morning Star went to print.
Independent crossbencher Baroness Deech said it was “common sense” to leave the victim, often with children, in their home while removing the abuser from the shared council or housing-association tenancy through application at a county court. She said the scheme is being trialled in Scotland and already operates in some Australian states. The Renting Homes Wales Act provides for the transfer of interest from one joint tenant to another, she added. The amendment had received no objections from social landlords, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, the Local Government Authority, Women’s Aid and related organisations, she said.
Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Labour) urged the government to outline a clear timescale for a consultation on the scheme.
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