In recent weeks, I’ve called on the Government to launch an independent inquiry into the family courts to help ensure that victims of abuse and their families are protected from further trauma. We know that family courts have previously granted violent, abusive fathers access to children and we need an inquiry to understand the scale of this problem.
On a powerful episode of the Victoria Derbyshire show, it was revealed that dozens of parents have told the BBC that their abusive ex-partners were granted unsupervised contact with their children. These shocking findings confirm my belief that reform of the family courts is urgently needed and I used my appearance on the show to repeat the call for an independent inquiry into the handling of domestic abuse and violence in the courts.
Thankfully, there is cross-party support in Parliament for my campaign and I was glad that over 120 MPs from all political parties signed my open letter to the Secretary of State for Justice requesting an inquiry. The former President of the Family Division of the High Court, Sir James Munby, has also outlined his own concerns that the courts are ignoring the voices of children.
The Ministry of Justice has responded by announcing that they will launch a review into how the family courts protect children and parents in cases of domestic abuse and other serious offences.
This is welcome news and an encouraging first step but I do have concerns about the scope and process of this review. To establish the true scale of the problems within the family court system, this review must be independent, it must include survivors on the panel, and it must be informed by thorough research.
I’ve written to the Ministry again to outline these concerns and now await their response. Victims of abuse have been failed time and time again by the state and we need to ensure that they finally receive the protection and justice that they deserve.