The Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation, Karen Bradley, has told the Domestic Abuse Summit in London that the whole government “has a key role to play in ending violence against women”.
Ms Bradley said that she and Home Secretary Theresa May and were leading the government in refreshing the UK’s strategy on violence against women and girls (VAWG) – including working closely with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Department of Health (DoH) and Department for Education (DfE) on some of the challenges being addressed in refreshing government strategy, to ensure a cross-department approach to supporting survivors of domestic violence.
Ms Bradley told the summit:
“We are seeing increased reporting of domestic abuse to law enforcement, mirrored by an increase in prosecutions – which are now at their highest ever levels.
“While this is to be welcomed, given that we know domestic abuse has been hidden and under-reported, more victims coming forward inevitably increases demand on support services.”
Ms Bradley added that she was aware of the importance of “joined-up local commissioning” in identifying the specialist needs of women to protect them and their families, including supporting BME (Black Minority Ethnic) and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) women – as well as protecting high-risk victims of domestic abuse.
She told the summit that the government was also aware of the need for earlier intervention to break the cycle of abuse – as well as “innovative models” being developed by service providers “to build networks of trusted professionals to support victims, improve multi-agency working and ways to support and disrupt perpetrators”.
Ms Bradley also spoke of the role that Police Crime Commissioners (PCCs) might play in tackling domestic abuse in the community.
“I am clear that PCCs have a critical role to play,” she told the summit.
“Two weeks ago, I visited Essex and heard from Nick Alston about how as PCC he has galvanised local efforts to pool budgets, getting the buy-in of local authorities and health commissioners.
“Essex has now commissioned 27 IDVAs (Independent Domestic Violence Advisers) across the county. They are developing models to target and disrupt perpetrators – and they are harnessing new technology like body-worn cameras to bring more perpetrators to justice.
“I am committed to working with PCCs and local commissioners to ensure that we work better together to support victims in a more joined-up way – and that there are no gaps between local and national services.”
Ms Bradley also said the government’s new domestic violence offence would improve the criminal justice response to domestic abuse.
“We have enacted a new law that ensures manipulative, controlling perpetrators, who cause their loved ones to live in fear, will face justice for their actions.
“The maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment for the new offence recognises the damage that coercive or controlling behaviour can have on its victims.
“And we are currently working with the College of Policing and The Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that the new offence will be implemented as soon as possible.
“However, we recognise the importance of training and appropriate guidance for frontline agencies on the new offence, to ensure the best possible protection to victims,” she added.
Duncan Lewis Domestic Violence Solicitors
Duncan Lewis is a leading firm of specialist domestic violence solicitors able to advise victims of domestic abuse on how to tackle the issue under the law.
Duncan Lewis can advise on domestic violence under UK law and Islamic law, including domestic abuse involving heterosexual and same sex partners, abuse against elderly family members, child-parent abuse, abuse between flatmates and psychological or financial domestic abuse.
There are Duncan Lewis offices nationwide and Duncan Lewis is a leading provider of Legal Aid services.
For expert and confidential legal advice on domestic abuse issues, call the Duncan Lewis Domestic Violence Solicitors Helpline on 07920 077054.