Mayor fast-tracks investment to help domestic abuse services
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has fast-tracked more than £1.3million to provide urgent help to domestic abuse services that have been left “creaking at the seams” due to years of Government funding cuts and the increased demand for support for women and girls who have been the victims of violence in the capital.
Sadiq has brought forward £1.35 million of a £15m fund to help meet the urgent demand in high-risk domestic abuse cases and improve timely access to sexual violence support services. It comes after four Rape Crisis Centres in the capital had to take the unusual step of closing their waiting lists early last year because they did not have the resources or capacity to offer support for victims.
Victim Support has now received £400,000 to help support victims of domestic abuse, while £760,000 has been invested in London’s four Rape Crisis Centres and a further £190,000 will fund Sexual Assault Referral Centre services in the capital.
Fast-tracking this funding to the organisations that need it the most will allow an additional 235 women to access the support of an Independent Sexual Violence Advocate and 350 more women will get the support of an Independent Domestic Abuse Advocate. Bespoke support for young women who are victims of sexual violence will increase by 62 per cent and 100 more women will be able to receive therapy sessions.
The Mayor has committed to allocating the remainder of the £15m fund by September 2019 and for services to begin mobilising immediately. Charities and organisations will be able to bid for a share of the additional funding in the coming months.
Sadiq’s new £15m investment is in addition to his Violence Against Women and Girls strategy, which is committed to investing £10m each year in a series of programmes that deliver ongoing support for victims and survivors, and fund rehabilitation projects for perpetrators of domestic abuse.
The additional funding has been set aside from business rates to provide resources for over-stretched domestic abuse charities, increase support for victims and survivors, and support hard-to-reach communities in response to the significant increase in demand of services in London prompted by a 63 per cent increase in domestic abuse offences between 2011 and 2018*.
The ‘Beneath the Numbers’ report, published by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, found that in 2018, more than three quarters of victims were female and that victims were more likely to live in areas of higher deprivation. It also follows concerning figures which show there were 29 domestic homicides last year – the highest figure since 2015. So far in 2019, there have already been 10 confirmed domestic homicides.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It is shocking that London’s Rape Crisis Centres had to close their doors last year because they could not deal with the level of demand for their services. These vital services, which we know offer crucial and invaluable support for victims, are creaking at the seams because they are so under resourced.
“That’s why I have prioritised urgently investing £1.35m of additional funds to help some of the core sexual violence and domestic abuse services manage the increased demand placed upon them. City Hall is working closely with the police and the sector to deliver sustained reductions in violence against women and girls. Government cuts to service providers have left them at breaking point, which is why we have stepped in to provide additional sustained investment of £15million to tackle this issue, on top of the £10m we already invest every year. We not only need to raise awareness of issues like domestic abuse, but we need to target perpetrators and support victims by ensuring services have what they need. Ministers need to provide proper investment for the police and long-term funding solutions for overworked and overstretched support services.”
Diana Fawcett, Chief Officer of independent charity Victim Support, said: “Our Independent Domestic Violence Advocates provide much needed emotional support, as well as practical help, to ensure anyone experiencing domestic abuse is safe and supported.
“We’re delighted to have additional funding from The Mayor, as part of the new Integrated Victim & Witness Service (IVWS), which will allow us to ensure victims and survivors of abuse across London have access to the best possible support.”
Yvonne Traynor, Chief Executive Officer of Rape Crisis South London, said: “The additional funding from the Mayor of London has come at a time when our waiting lists had become unmanageable and we were turning away hundreds of survivors who contacted us desperate for our help and support. This new funding has meant that we can open our waiting lists and employ more specialist workers to provide the professional support that survivors of sexual violence deserve. We, and our clients, are extremely grateful to the Mayor and his amazing team for their insight into the work we do and for their outstanding support.”
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Notes to editors
*The full ‘Beneath the Numbers’ report can be read here:
• In 2017 in the UK, demand for women-only services rose by 83 per cent while funding fell by 50 per cent - Women’s Resource Centre: Hearing Women's Voices - Why Women 2018
• Funding to the women’s sector across the country has reduced drastically in the last decade. Many women’s organisations have closed or are under threat of closure because of the funding crisis.
• Government cuts have disproportionately affected women’s organisations, with local authority spending on services for vulnerable women being cut by an average of £44,914 for each council in 2013.
• Analysis shows the level of offending (30 per cent) was higher in areas with greater levels of deprivation, often located in inner boroughs, compared to others (11 per cent).
• Q4 17/18 to Q3 18/19, 1215 women were successful in accessing refuges. 1896 were unsuccessful meaning that 60 per cent of those in London that tried to access provision unable to use this service.