50,000 signatures reached
To: Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland MP
Child First: Safe Child Contact Saves Lives
We are calling on the Government and family courts to ensure there are no further avoidable child deaths as a result of unsafe child contact with a perpetrator of domestic abuse.
In order for this to happen the family courts must not allow known abusers to continue their abuse either in family courts or through decisions taken by family courts that put children and women's lives in danger.
Why is this important?
"No parent should have to hold their children and comfort them as they die, or be told that their child has been harmed in an act of revenge or rage." Claire Throssell, mother of Jack and Paul who were killed in October 2014 by their father after he was granted unsupervised contact with them by the family court.
Six years since their tragic deaths, the Women’s Aid’s Child First: Safe Child Contact Saves Lives has seen real progress. There has been new guidance for judges making decisions about child contact in cases of domestic abuse, and government commitment to make the family courts safer for victims.
But women and children going through the family courts continue to experience harm and children's voices continue to be unheard and lost, with devastating consequences. Since we launched this petition in 2016, we know that at least two further children have been killed by an abusive parent in circumstances related to unsafe child contact.
A ground breaking new report on the family courts published earlier this year found that the courts have a ‘pro-contact’ culture – a deeply held commitment to ensuring both parents maintain contact with a child. Survivors of domestic abuse tell us that this puts their children in danger, and means serious allegations of abuse are ignored.
To protect children, the family courts must put children's safety at the heart of any decisions they make about contact with a known perpetrator of domestic abuse. We are calling on the government to make this clear, once and for all, in the Domestic Abuse Bill.