We are delighted to see the revised Domestic Abuse Guidance published today by the Home Office. The revised guidance marks a significant milestone towards strengthening the protection available to women seeking asylum at risk of domestic abuse. One of the key features of the revised guidance is a new mechanism, enabling asylum seeking women at risk of domestic abuse to access specialist refuge accommodation and associated support services.
The guidance is the main document Home Office caseworkers, accommodation providers and Migrant Help staff use when responding to reports of domestic violence. It contains a number of new safeguards and practical measures to improve the level of information and protection available to people seeking asylum at risk of abuse. In addition to the new mechanism to enable access to refuge places, the guidance also commits the Home Office to listening to, and acting on, the views of advice workers working closely with survivors about what constitutes a safe accommodation option for them. It has also been expanded to include women who need to access the asylum support system from an abusive situation. It recognises the importance of a quick response which prioritises safety.
To coincide with the publication of the guidance we have produced a 2-page briefing document to provide a helpful summary of the new safeguards.
The publication of the revised guidance marks the culmination of sustained policy work by the Refugee Council and Asylum Support Appeals Project, working closely with Home Office officials to develop the new safeguards. The need to publish revised guidance was identified as one of the key recommendations from our ‘Safe from Violence in the UK?’ report, published in July 2018.
Andy Hewett, Head of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, said: “Almost a year to the day since the publication of our report which clearly identified the need for additional safeguards, we are delighted to see the publication of the revised guidance being launched today. The measures contained in the new guidance mark a significant step forward towards ensuring the asylum support system is better able to respond to the needs of asylum seeking women at risk of domestic abuse.
“We express our deep gratitude to the many specialist organisations who have inputted into this process, and to the Home Office officials who have worked closely with us and the Asylum Support Appeals Project to develop the guidance. This serves as a fantastic example of what can be achieved when different sectors come together to address a single issue. We look forward to monitoring the implementation of the revised guidance over the coming months to ensure these important new safeguards are effective in practice.”