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To: Secretary of State for Justice, Lord Chancellor, Alex Chalk 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.

Nine years since their tragic deaths, Women’s Aid’s Child First campaign has seen real progress. In 2017, new guidance was published for judges making decisions about child contact in cases of domestic abuse and, in 2020, the government committed to make the family courts safer for adult and child survivors.

But women going through the family courts continue to experience harm and children's voices continue to be unheard, with devastating consequences. Since we launched this petition in 2016, there have been at least two further children killed by an abusive parent in circumstances.

In 2020, a ground-breaking report on the family court, called the ‘Harm Panel report’, 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.

The report made a number of recommendations to ensure the culture of the family court changes and children's safety at the heart of any decisions about contact, including reviewing the 'presumption of parental involvement'. We are calling on the government to make their commitment to children’s safety clear, once and for all, by implementing all the recommendations in Harm Panel report.




2023-10-24 12:51:56 +0100

Seven years on from the launch of this petition, family court reform is stalling – and in some cases, progress is even being reversed.

We are still hearing from survivors that they are being disbelieved and retraumatised and that children’s safety is being put at risk.

The Government’s plans to introduce compulsory mediation before family court could make the situation worse, risking the safety of both adult and child survivors.

We are pushing to reach 100,000 signatures and deliver this petition to the Justice Secretary, sending a clear message that children’s safety must be a government priority.

2020-10-22 18:35:10 +0100

50,000 signatures reached

2016-01-25 17:11:33 +0000

20,000 signatures reached

2016-01-21 17:19:31 +0000

10,000 signatures reached

2016-01-21 06:06:55 +0000

5,000 signatures reached

2016-01-20 16:48:38 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2016-01-20 13:52:30 +0000

500 signatures reached

2016-01-20 10:13:52 +0000

100 signatures reached

2016-01-20 09:25:45 +0000

50 signatures reached

2016-01-20 08:32:54 +0000

25 signatures reached

2016-01-20 07:42:37 +0000

10 signatures reached