It is important to acknowledge that the coronavirus outbreak is a particularly worrying time for victims of domestic abuse. In particular, the social-distancing measures required could have a serious effect on domestic abuse victims and increase exposure to those perpetrating the crime.
- Domestic abuse is a horrendous crime, and councils want to do all they can to tackle and prevent it. As part of our #CouncilsCan campaign, the LGA has been calling for greater action to reduce and eventually eliminate domestic abuse and it is positive to see the Domestic Abuse Bill being taken forward.
- It is important to acknowledge that the coronavirus outbreak is a particularly worrying time for victims of domestic abuse. In particular, the social-distancing measures required could have a serious effect on domestic abuse victims and increase exposure to those perpetrating the crime.
- Many councils are working closely with their partners in the police, health services and wider domestic abuse sector, to reassure people at risk and provide support and guidance. The LGA has also produced guidance to support councils to tackle domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- We support the creation of a statutory definition of domestic abuse, and the inclusion of economic abuse within this. We are also pleased to see the establishment of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner role.
- Alongside the Bill’s focus on crisis interventions and criminal justice, tackling domestic abuse requires a cross-government response incorporating health, housing and education. We need an equal focus on, and funding for, prevention and early intervention measures that aims to prevent domestic abuse happening in the first place.
- While it is correct that we should prioritise and support victims, breaking the cycle of domestic abuse will also mean stopping perpetrators from reoffending. This requires funding and investment to be put towards evidence-based perpetrator programmes.
- We are calling for the key learning and best practice from Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) to be shared on a national level. This learning should contribute towards the Commissioner’s Annual Report.
- With domestic abuse a factor in most child protection cases, we would like to see more emphasis on how children can be supported when they have experienced domestic abuse. There must be greater investment in child and adolescent mental health services and early intervention work to mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences based around domestic abuse.
- This legislation comes at a time when, even prior to the eventual long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, local government’s services, particularly children’s services, were already facing unprecedented demand. Councils have worked hard to protect budgets for essential child protection services, but funding pressures have led to difficult decisions in other parts of the service. This has reduced vital early intervention work and is leaving children and young people unable to access support they need.
- For the Bill to be a success in tackling domestic abuse and creating consistency of services, it must be underpinned by adequate, long-term funding for councils.
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