Our response to new domestic violence commissioner
29th May 2017
Deputy CEO Suzanne Jacob says:
"Today Theresa May gave more detail about the Conservatives' proposal for a dedicated Commissioner tackling domestic violence and abuse, to be appointed if the Conservatives are returned as the next Government.
"I spent a decade working in Government before I joined SafeLives, and have seen the single issue commissioner role take many forms. Appointments like this can be an important step forward, when they adopt criteria that have seen people like Kevin Hyland appointed as the first Independent Anti Slavery Commissioner.
"Firstly, that word independent is crucial. It doesn't mean that someone should be a maverick, or a grandstander flushed with their own importance. It means being able to act as the ultimate critical friend with a very wide range of people, from Ministers who appointed you, to frontline professionals who might be cynical about your knowledge of the pressures on their job. A successful appointee will be able to look in both these directions and work with people, being brave when needed to tackle short term or territorial thinking. They will command the respect of enough people that they can make domestic abuse everybody's business, as it should be.
"A commissioner who makes a difference will also be entirely comfortable outside of the corridors of power, whether that's Whitehall or a smart police headquarters or a health trust's board meeting. They will be able to - actually insist on - spending time with people who have lived experience of the issue. People whose lives have been turned upside down but are finding ways to come out the other side. If you're uncomfortable looking those people in the eye and thinking of them as your colleagues, a role like this isn't for you.
"Finally, a commissioner who can really make progress, despite the many obstacles and disappointments that come with attempting social change, will need to rely on really high quality evidence as well as anecdote. Lots of people have an opinion on domestic abuse. Those opinions matter. But it isn't enough to feel moved by the issue and want to do something. Resources are tight and we need to know what works and why it works. We then need to replicate and scale that effective response so that any victim, survivor or child, wherever they are in the country, can expect it. Quality and consistency matter.
"We've come a long way on domestic abuse. We've got further to go. The right commissioner will get us there sooner, so everyone can be safe at home."