Two women a week die at the hands of their partners or ex-partners, and one in five children experience domestic abuse growing up. Currently, these people face a postcode lottery for support – this needs to change.
We welcome the return of the Domestic Abuse Bill on 28th April 2020 but urge the UK Government to strengthen legislation to include a full statutory duty on local authorities to provide both accommodation-based and community-based services for adult and child victims, as well as perpetrators of abuse. This is necessary to end the postcode lottery of support and ensure everyone can access the help they need. COVID-19 has thrown into sharp relief how easily victims of domestic abuse can be omitted from vital support because of lack of funding. Getting this wrong will risk lives, which is why we are calling for MPs to #Invest2EndAbuse.
How we got here
In autumn 2019, we responded to the MHCLG Consultation on the Future Delivery of Support to Victims and their Children in Accommodation-Based Domestic Abuse Services. It was clear that a statutory duty on accommodation alone would present a significant risk to those community-based services which may be deprioritised in order to fulfil a narrower statutory duty based only on refuge services. This could lead to victims facing a further postcode lottery for support, particularly those who require specialist support such as BME, LGBT+ and disabled groups. It also risks withdrawal of funding for perpetrator programmes, and services for child victims. Following this consultation, we launched #Invest2EndAbuse.
General Election 2019 campaign
In the lead up to the 2019 general election, we called upon candidates to pledge to #Invest2EndAbuse, asking them to ensure the full range of domestic abuse services will be fully funded if they are elected as an MP. You can see which candidates signed our pledge to invest in the full range of domestic abuse services.
COVID-19 has left services across the country in need of emergency funds to just survive, let alone face the surge in demand that is starting to appear. Covid-19 makes it even more essential to guarantee funding to services, especially to smaller services that often serve the most marginalised communities.
We have calculated that the government would need to guarantee £65 million to keep frontline services running in England and Wales. This does not factor in an increase in cases.
Why we need to #Invest2EndAbuse
Our 2019 Practitioner Survey found that adult and child victims face a postcode lottery in accessing specialist domestic abuse support.
• We are short of nearly 300 Idvas who are needed to support survivors who are at the most risk of serious harm or murder.
• For those victims and survivors who require early intervention or recovery support, outreach provision remains patchy and inconsistent.
• Specialist children’s support has been declining with evidence from Women’s Aid’s Annual Survey 2017 showing that the percentage of domestic abuse services providing dedicated support to children and young people fell from 62% in 2010 to 52% in 2017.
• Young people experience some of the highest rates of domestic abuse, at high levels of severity. Despite this, almost one in five police force areas have no specialist support for young people experiencing domestic abuse.
• Fewer than 1% of perpetrators receive an intervention to change their behaviour.
Action for Children report
Action for Children's report, released Thursday 21 November, into children's experiences of domestic abuse, shows that every day nearly 700 children in England are being identified as experiencing domestic abuse at home. The report also finds barriers to accessing support in two-thirds of local authorities, with more than one in ten offering no support services for children at all. This highlights the stark need to invest in domestic abuse specialist services that will support the whole family, children included.
On 25 February 2020, Barnado's released their report on the hidden impact of domestic abuse on children, finding the trauma can last long into adulthood. The report found half of the children needing support from children's services had experienced domestic abuse in the home. It also found growing evidence of a link between children experiencing domestic abuse and then going on to be a young offender, with 25% of boys and 40% of girls in custody reporting violence at home. Barnardo's found that although domestic abuse and the trauma it creates are the most common issue the charity’s frontline staff see within the families they work with, support services are in short supply. This is further evidence that the Government needs to include a requirement in its domestic abuse bill for local authorities to provide specialist services for the whole family, including child victims of domestic abuse.
The #Invest2EndAbuse campaign is supported by: