On 9 December 2022, The Wales Cross Party Group on Digital Rights and Democracy, of which Open Rights Group is the secretariat, held its second session, this time held on data sharing and migrant women reporting domestic abuse.
The session, chaired by Sarah Murphy, Member of the Senedd for Bridgend and Porthcawl, heard representations from Wanjiku Ngotho-Mbugua from the domestic abuse advocacy organisation BAWSO, Joanne Hopkins from Public Health England and Minister of Social Justice Jane Hutt MS.
Murphy also noted comments from Elizabeth Jimenez from the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) and Step Up Migrant Women coalition, who was not in attendance but had provided evidence to inquiry performed by the equality and social justice committee on the issue.
Through case studies from BAWSO, the coalition and others, it became clear that when migrant women report domestic violence to the police, their visit may result in a deportation letter coming through because their data has been shared with other Home Office departments.
Such cases have several implications:
Migrant women are less likely to report domestic violence to the police for fear of deportation, with mistrust exacerbated between them and Home Office institutions, including law enforcement. The mistrust felt can extend as a deterrent to accessing other services. The abuser can use the fear of deportation over a victim’s head to keep them in a state of abuse and exploitation. When people, including undocumented migrants, aren’t engaged, the government and research bodies lack information, which hinders the effectiveness of