Written evidence submitted by Barnardo’s (VIC0044)

About Barnardo’s

Barnardo’s is the UK’s largest national children’s charity. Our ambition is to achieve better outcomes for more children by building stronger families, safer childhoods and positive futures. In 2020-21 Barnardo’s supported 382,872 children, young people, parents and carers through 791 services and partnerships throughout the UK. We helped 103,057 vulnerable children and young people through Barnardo’s Government funded Covid-19 response programme, See, Hear, Respond, alongside more than 80 partners. This included direct work with 5,294 children and young people through our child abuse and exploitation services and supporting thousands more through our work training professionals, providing resources for schools and raising awareness through policy and research.

We also host the Home Office-funded Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse [1] which reaches thousands through its training and research, as well as the National FGM Centre, a partnership between Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association, which works with professionals and in communities to educate and prevent FGM.

Increasingly in our child criminal and sexual exploitation services, we are supporting children and young people through police investigations and court cases, and the associated trauma they bring. We also support children and young people who have broken the law, as well as those who are victims. It is crucial that these young people can access timely, specialist support. Our services tell us that having therapeutic support can in fact lead to children feeling able to support a prosecution process and similarly that a lack of support can stop a child reporting a crime to the police and therefore pursue a criminal/s.

Barnardo’s has joined with other charities in the Children’s Sector to call for the following key principles which we believe must be reflected in the Bill.


Principle 1: specialist support in the community to prevent abuse and intervene at the earliest opportunity

  • A statutory duty on all relevant public authorities to commission community-based specialist domestic support services for all victims, including young people in their own intimate abusive relationships
  • Child victims of abuse have a right to access specialist support regardless of whether they have contact with the criminal justice system
  • Expansion in provision of Child Independent Sexual Violence Advisors and Child Independent Domestic Violence advisors, including specialist training to work with children

Principle 2: making sure the criminal justice system is child-centred

  • Child abuse victims to have access to therapy support, including pre-trial therapy  
  • Access to special measures including registered intermediaries in the criminal courts
  • Establishment of more child centred multi-agency approaches to support victims of child sexual abuse such as Child Houses[2]


Principle 3: whole systems approach to supporting children

  • Commissioners must collaborate to consider and meet the needs of child abuse victims, as well as those young people displaying harmful behaviours
  • Consequences for systems in place with regards to upholding the rights of child victims
  • Better data collection around children’s experience as victims of abuse

Principle 4: children who are victims of exploitation are protected

  • The Victims Law must recognise the experience of and protect child victims of criminal exploitation
  • Child victims of criminal exploitation must be provided with support regardless of whether they appear as a witness or defendant in criminal proceedings



1.          The Draft Victim Bill’s definition of ‘victim’


2.          The Government’s proposal to put the overarching principles of the Victims’ Code in primary legislation and set out key entitlements in secondary legislation, consulting on changes to the Code once the Bill is in force.


3.          The key changes the Government should consider making to the Victims’ Code, including consideration of those already proposed by the Government in its response to the consultation.


4.          The Government’s proposals to amend the role of the Victims’ Commissioner.



5.          The Government’s proposals to place a duty on the relevant criminal justice agencies (the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, HM Courts & Tribunals Service, Youth Offending Teams and HM Prison and Probation Service) to collect data and keep under review their delivery of the Code.


6.          The Government’s proposals on the role of the inspectorates, including an improved focus on victims, and a new power for the Government to direct aspects of their work.


7.          Whether the legislative steps proposed by the Government will lead to an improvement in the commissioning of support services?


         The new duty to collaborate will not, in itself, necessarily increase the provision of specialist children’s services but will have an impact on better join-up and potentially the victim journey. The proposal for the new duty to publish local strategies and needs assessments, which will include the needs of children, is welcome. It is also critical that the new National Oversight Board includes representation from organisation(s) representing the needs of children.

         We recommend that the Victims’ Bill places a duty on all relevant public authorities to commission specialist domestic abuse and sexual violence support services for all persons affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence. This would:


8.          Whether the steps outlined by the Government will lead to increased awareness and effectiveness of ISVAs and IDVAs?


9.          What implementation, resourcing and accountability challenges exist with respect to the Victims Bill?


10.    Whether there any relevant international examples the Committee should consider?


11.    Whether the provisions of the Bill could have any implications for due process?


12.    Whether there should be any further measures included in the Bill?

We recommend that a full child impact assessment of the Bill is undertaken at the earliest opportunity. This should include looking at under-identified groups of children.

Below is a list of further measures that we believe should be in the Bill:

1)     Statutory duty to commission specialist community-based services

         As already set out in the response above, in order to properly support victims of crime, the Bill needs to include a statutory duty for commissioning specialist community-based services for domestic abuse and sexual violence.


2)     Statutory definition of child IDVA and ISVA roles


3)     Reform the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

We are pleased that the Government have recently launched the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme Review: supplementary consultation on unspent convictions.

         Children who have minor convictions should still be entitled to compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. Since 2012 victims of violent crime are not entitled to compensation under the Scheme if they have an unspent conviction that resulted in:

        a sentence excluded from rehabilitation;

        detention or imprisonment, including in a young offenders’ institution or other youth custody

        a sentence of service detention;

        removal from Her Majesty’s service;

        a community order;

        a youth rehabilitation order; or

        a sentence equivalent to a sentence described above, imposed under the law of Northern Ireland or a member state of the European Union, or such a sentence properly imposed in a country outside of the European Union

         This means that people with unspent convictions who are themselves the victim of a crime, are effectively denied their status as victims by the state. People affected by this rule have included victims of sexual abuse and other serious crimes, whose own offending can be clearly linked to the crimes committed against them and the trauma they have experienced.55

         In 2017 we launched a campaign highlighting the failures of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.56 This stemmed from our concerns that victims of sexual exploitation in our services were being denied, or getting reduced, compensation because they had minor convictions as detailed above, as well as some being denied compensation because they had ‘consented’ to their abuse. There were cases where compensation was not awarded due to there being multiple offenders, offenders who were under ten and when victims lived under the same roof as the abuser. 

         The ‘consent rule’ was revised under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme Review 2020, and the ‘same roof rule’ was also overturned, but the ‘unspent convictions’ rule is still in place. This is despite the terms of reference for the review clearly stating that it will consider “the eligibility rules including, inter alia, concerns about … unspent convictions”, and the government’s 2018 Victims’ Strategy making clear that it will explore the recommendations made by IICSA, one of which relates to this specific rule. 

         As stated, currently the rule on unspent convictions unfairly penalises some victims of serious violent crime and disproportionately affects the most vulnerable victims, such as victims of child sexual abuse. Often they may have been forced to commit crimes as part of their exploitation and abuse, or their vulnerabilities that led to their abuse have resulted in them breaking the law. This should not mean that they are punished again for this by withholding the compensation. 

         This scheme must be amended to ensure that all victims receive the compensation they deserve and we will be responding to the consultation to express this.


4)     Children’s access to pre trial therapy

         Children and young people need a right access to pre-trial therapy and guidance currently in development should be urgently released to ensure multi-agency partners do not prevent them from receiving vital support. All children affected by crimes should be given a right to access counselling with access determined by need rather than age.


5)     Statutory Definition of CCE

         As discussed within the response, there must be a legal definition of Child Criminal Exploitation in primary legislation to ensure that professionals working with victims and perpetrators fully understand this type of abuse.


June 2022

[1] wHome - CSA Centre

[2] A Child House is a multiagency service model supporting children, young people and non-abusing parents and carers following child sexual abuse. See for e.g. https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/childhouse_jan19_report.pdf

[3] Children will keep dying on our streets until there is a joined up public health response to gangs | Children's Commissioner for England (childrenscommissioner.gov.uk)

[4] Barnardo's Quarterly Practitioner Survey, July 2021 - (n=276)

[5] The children selling explicit videos on OnlyFans - BBC News

[6] County lines: 1,100 people arrested in UK crackdown - BBC News

[7] Exploited and Criminalised report.pdf (barnardos.org.uk)

[8] Unpublished Barnardo’s Quarterly Practitioner Survey January 2021

Q. Have you supported a child who reported a crime they were victim of to the police? Base: 47; Q. Are they being offered appropriate support in a timely way? Base: 27; Q. Are they being updated about their court case/police activity regularly? Base: 27; Q. Are they being offered support through the court process from an advocate? Base: 27;


[9] Are we getting it right for young victims of crime? A review of children's entitlements in the Victims' Code - Victims Commissioner

[10] Are we getting it right for young victims of crime? A review of children's entitlements in the Victims' Code - Victims Commissioner

[11] Domestic violence perpetrator programmes - What Works for Children's Social Care (whatworks-csc.org.uk)

[12] SafeLives (2020), Letter from community-based domestic abuse services to Government, Available at: https://safelives.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Letter%20from%20community%20based%20domestic%20abuse%20services%20to%20Government%20FINAL.pdf

[13] Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England (2019), Childhood vulnerability in numbers. Available at: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/publication/childhood-vulnerability-in-england-2019/

[14] Department for Education (2020), Characteristics of children in need: 2019 to 2020, England. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/characteristics-of-children-in-need-2019-to-2020

[15] National review into the murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

[16] ONS (2017), People who were abused as children are more likely to be abused as an adult. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/peoplewhowereabusedaschildrenaremorelikelytobeabusedasanadult/2017-09-27

[17] SafeLives (2017), Safe Young Lives: Young people and domestic abuse. Available at: https://safelives.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Safe%20Young%20Lives%20web.pdf

[18] Action for Children (2021), The Domestic Abuse Bill: importance of community-based support – including for children – finally recognised. Available at: https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/blog/domestic-abuse-bill-community-based-support/

[19] https://safelives.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/SafeLives%20survey%20of%20frontline%20domestic%20abuse%20organisations%20for%20COVID-19%2030.03.20_0.pdf

[20] https://safelives.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Final%20policy%20report%20In%20plain%20sight%20-%20effective%20help%20for%20children%20exposed%20to%20domestic%20abuse.pdf

[21] Barnardo’s (2020), Not just collateral damage: The hidden impact of domestic abuse on children. Available at: https://www.barnardos.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/%27Not%20just%20collateral%20damage%27%20Barnardo%27s%20Report_0.pdf

[22]Barnardo’s (2020), Not just collateral damage: The hidden impact of domestic abuse on children. Available at: https://www.barnardos.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/%27Not%20just%20collateral%20damage%27%20Barnardo%27s%20Report_0.pdf

[23] SafeLives (2017), Safe Young Lives: Young people and domestic abuse. Available at: https://safelives.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Safe%20Young%20Lives%20web.pdf

[24] The Children’s Society (2020), Missing the mark Why young people experiencing teenage relationship abuse are being left without the support that they need. Available at: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/2021-05/missing-the-mark-teenage-relationship-abuse-report.pdf

[25]Women’s Aid (2020), The Domestic Abuse Report 2020: The Annual Audit. Available at: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/The-Domestic-Abuse-Report-2020-The-Annual-Audit.pdf

[26] Independent Age (2018), Experiencing domestic abuse in later life. Available at: https://www.independentage.org/ageism-plus/ageism-plus-blog/news-media/suffering-domestic-abuse-later-life

[27] SafeLives (2016). Safe Later Lives: Older people and domestic abuse. Available at: https://safelives.org.uk/spotlight-1-olderpeople-and-domestic-abuse

[28] SafeLives (2016). Safe Later Lives: Older people and domestic abuse. Available at: https://safelives.org.uk/spotlight-1-olderpeople-and-domestic-abuse

[29] 18 per cent of respondents had been in a violent relationship for between five and ten years, and 26 per cent of respondents had been in a violent relationship for ten years or more. Imkaan (2012), Vital Statistics 2

[30] SafeLives, (2021) SafeLivesMarac data – Key findings January 2020-December 2020. Available from: https://safelives.org.uk/practice-support/resources-marac-meetings/latest-marac-data

[31] Women’s Aid (2020), Funding crisis for domestic abuse sector with 64% of refuge referrals declined. Available at: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/funding-crisis-for-domestic-abuse-sector-with-64-of-refuge-referrals-declined/

[32] Southall Black Sisters, 2021. Domestic Abuse Bill and Migrant Women: Briefing Paper 2

[33] SafeLives (2021), SafeLives’ Response to the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy call for evidence 2021. Available at: https://safelives.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/SafeLives-Response-VAWG-Strategy-2021.pdf

[34] Ibid

[35] SafeLives (Undated), SafeLives’ public health approach to ending domestic abuse. Available at: https://safelives.org.uk/public-health-approach

[36] https://safelives.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Final%20policy%20report%20In%20plain%20sight%20-%20effective%20help%20for%20children%20exposed%20to%20domestic%20abuse.pdf

[37] https://media.actionforchildren.org.uk/documents/patchy-piecemeal-and-precarious-support-for-children-affected-by-domestic-abuse.pdf

[38] https://safelives.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Safety_in_Numbers_full_report.pdf

[39] https://safelives.org.uk/training/if-you-work-idva/idva-training

[40] https://safelives.org.uk/training/idvas-and-frontline-professionals/responding-young-people

[41] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/647112/The_Role_of_the_Independent_Sexual_Violence_Adviser_-_Essential_Elements_September_2017_Final.pdf