Commenting on the Domestic Abuse Plan, Niki Scordi, CEO of Advance, which provides domestic abuse support to thousands of women, said:
“Like many other specialist domestic abuse services, Advance has seen a huge rise in need and risk, as women and children struggled to get help from public services during the pandemic. As a result, survivors are now coming to us with increasingly complex needs, including mental health and substance use.
“We are pleased to see investment in highly skilled independent domestic abuse advocates (IDVAs), who provide short-term support for women considered at the highest risk. But we are hugely disappointed the government has again ignored calls from expert frontline services, including Advance, for greater funding for a wider range of long-term, community-based support for survivors, from vital emotional support to help with legal and financial issues, enabling them to rebuild their and their children’s lives.
The reality is that many women who are killed or driven to suicide by abuse, will often not be identified as high risk by statutory agencies. By tying support to risk and putting so little (just £15 million per year for three years) into community-based services, this excludes the majority of women and will mean opportunities will be missed to pick up warning signs and save more lives. At least £220 million a year is needed for community-based services, so this is a disappointing plan which does very little to put vital community support on a more stable footing.
“While we recognise that there are elements of the plan that seek to reduce the appalling death rates, such as supporting the police to identify suicide risks amongst survivors, this cannot be done without the expertise of specialist services which continue to face chronic funding issues. There is also very little to address the appalling conviction rates for domestic abuse, which are a stain on our criminal justice system. We need a renewed focus on rebuilding trust in the system and the police in particular, yet the Plan does not include holding the police to account on this issue.
“It is a step forward that the Plan has highlighted prevention as a priority, although little value is placed on the hugely important role specialist young women and girls’ services have in ensuring young women and girls have the tools they need to identify the warning signs of abuse earlier. Fully funding these services must form a central part of any effective prevention strategy.
“We know from decades of listening to and supporting thousands of women and girls survivors of domestic abuse each year what is needed. While we are pleased the government is making efforts in this direction, it is vital that it listens to the expertise of frontline services – and crucially women and girls themselves – if it is to truly address this issue. The government has set targets to reduce domestic abuse and domestic homicides but this plan will not be able to achieve that without making community support a much bigger priority. We all need to see seismic change, and if the government is not prepared to step up now, when will it? We stand ready and willing to work with the government to make further improvements to the Plan, so that women and girls can access the support they need, when they need it.”
For all press enquiries, please contact:
Lisa Jones, Press Manager at Advance, at
M: 07943 111557
- Advance’s vision is a world in which women and children lead safe, equal, violence-free lives so that they can flourish and actively contribute to society. The charity works with women who experience domestic abuse to be safe and take control of their lives, and women who have committed crime or are at risk of offending to break the cycle.
- As well as providing direct support, Advance works with statutory services, government agencies and other women’s charities to ensure a holistic approach to the issues these women face.