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Domestic abuse and risk of harm added to inquiry

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Home Office Affairs Committee, domestic abuse, risks of harm, added, inquiry, Home Office, preparedness, pandemic, COVID-19, CoronavirusPlease submit your evidence by 12 noon on 21 April 2020.

The Home Affairs Committee has issued a further call for evidence to inform their inquiry into Home Office preparedness for COVID-19 in addition to the topics announced on 3 March 2020.

The Committee is now inviting submissions on domestic abuse and ‘risks of harm within the hom’e during the crisis and particularly on any measures needed to reduce harm and support victims during the crisis.

The Home Affairs Committee is a cross-party committee of MPs responsible for scrutinising the work of the Home Office and its associated bodies. It examines government policy, spending and the law in areas including immigration, security and policing.

The Committee is inviting evidence on the following issues:

The prevalence of domestic abuse and risks of harm since the government issued ‘stay at home’ guidance on 23 March;

Measures or proposals to help support victims of domestic abuse and child abuse at this time;

Measures or proposals to reduce or avert domestic abuse and child abuse at this time;

Preparedness of responders and service providers to address the needs of victims during the pandemic; and

The effectiveness of government advice, co-ordination and support for responders and service providers.

On 3 March, the UK Government, together with devolved administrations, published its Coronavirus action plan.

It comprised four phases:

1 – Contain: detect early cases, follow up close contacts, and prevent the disease taking hold in this country for as long as is reasonably possible

2 – Delay: slow the spread in the UK, and if it does take hold, lower the peak impact and pushing it away from the winter season

3 – Research: better understand the virus and the actions that will lessen its effect on the UK population; innovate responses including diagnostics, drugs and vaccines; use the evidence to inform the development of the most effective models of care

4 – Mitigate: provide the best care possible for people who become ill, support hospitals to maintain essential services and ensure ongoing support for people ill in the community to minimise the overall impact of the disease on society, public services and on the economy.

Impacts during the ‘mitigate’ phase will be significant.

For example, the government expects that police and fire and rescue services will enact business continuity plans.

This would require the police to concentrate on responding to serious crimes and maintaining public order (Action plan 4.48).

Privately-run Home Office functions will also require business continuity plans to be in place to safeguard vulnerable people.

Initially the Home Affairs Committee invited written evidence on the issues set out below:

How police and fire and rescue service business continuity plans are being designed to best safeguard the public and emergency service workers;

What trade-offs will have to be made by police if a significant number of officers are unable to work at any given time, and the potential impact of those decisions;

How the Home Office and its major contractors are working together to ensure the safe and effective operation of contracted services is maintained, particularly where these services affect vulnerable people;

Whether Border Force is sufficiently equipped to deliver any additional functions required of it during a period of heightened vigilance, and with reduced staffing;

How police forces will support each other if mobilisation tactics, or other forms of mutual support, are compromised by the imperative to limit the possible spread of the virus;

The preparedness of forces to support Local Resilience Forums during a possible civil contingencies emergency; and

The effectiveness of Home Office communications to its partners, responders and the wider public about its preparations.

Please note that submissions do not need to address all these issues.

For more information, or to submit evidence, click here.

Please submit your evidence by 12 noon on 21 April 2020.

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