Mayor pledges £5m to support victims of domestic violence

04 March 2015

• First ever pan-London domestic violence service will support victims’ recovery and help them navigate the criminal justice system

• Reported domestic abuse incidents rose last year in London by 23 percent

• Number of perpetrators brought to just is up 18.6 percent since 2012, but conviction rates for DV cases in London remain below national rates

The Mayor, Boris Johnson, has renewed his commitment to tackle domestic violence and increase conviction rates in the capital, as he launched the first London-wide service for victims of abuse.

Reports of domestic and sexual violence are increasing across the country as more victims gain the confidence to come forward. Progress has been made to bring more perpetrators to justice, but conviction rates for domestic violence in London remain too low –12 percent below the national average.

Victims who do come forward often feel isolated and burdened by the legal system and are left to deal with their case without adequate support.

As a result, in 2013, over two-thirds of unsuccessful domestic violence cases at London’s magistrate courts, and almost half at Crown Court, were a result of evidential problems, the most prevalent being a witness’ refusal to give evidence in court.

Until now, local support for victims of domestic violence in London has been patchy and inconsistent.

The new £5 million Pan-London Domestic Violence Service announced today will, for the first time, co-ordinate these services giving all victims access to specialist support through both Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) and other support workers

Funded through the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC), it will provide additional staff where needed to plug gaps, encourage reporting and help boost conviction rates by giving victims the confidence they need to face their abusers in court, should they wish to pursue a conviction.

A Mayoral manifesto commitment, the service will be run by a consortia led by Victim Support and including the Safer London Foundation, and will increase the number of IDVA’s in London by more than a third, with 40 new Advocates supporting high-risk victims and 16 additional posts directly supporting medium and low risk victims through the courts.

Working with the police, local authorities, Crown Prosecution Service and voluntary organisations they will co-ordinate services for victims, providing them with practical and emotional support and helping them to access housing, financial support, counselling and healthcare as well as guiding them through the criminal justice process where charges are brought.

They will also focus on supporting more victims from BME communities to come forward and report abuse, which is currently significantly under-reported in many communities.

Speaking at Havering Women’s Aid Refuge Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “We've worked hard with the Met to give victims of abuse more confidence to come forward, and I’m glad to see this is happening, but there is still a huge amount to be done. This is a horrendous and frightening crime and all victims should have all the support they need, no matter where they live, which this new service will guarantee. But we’ve also got to get tough on the perpetrators of abuse by making it very clear that domestic violence in form will not be tolerated and give victims who have the courage to report abuse the support they need to get the justice they deserve.”

New data released today by the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC), reveals the scale of domestic and sexual offending in the capital. It shows an upward trend towards greater reporting of incidents – with a 23 per cent increase in the recording of domestic abuse and a 28 per cent increase in the reporting of sexual violence – and paints a picture of the volume of domestic and sexual violence offending at a borough level.

Domestic violence accounts for a third (34 per cent) of all ‘violence with injury’ offences in London and last year over 24,000 cases were reported to the police, an increase of 16 per cent. Boroughs with the highest rates of reported domestic incidents include Barking & Dagenham, Tower Hamlets and Croydon.

However, the ‘Domestic and Sexual Violence Dashboard’ shows that more perpetrators are being brought to justice than in previous years up 18.6 per cent from 2012.

Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime said: “This funding boost will give London a comprehensive service so we can do even more to support the women and men who are victims of domestic violence. The Mayor’s Office already funds Havens and Rape Crisis Centres to serve the whole capital, and now this new service will provide full coverage for London so we can do even more to support victims. This support is needed whether or not charges are brought, but where cases do go to court, this service aims to help victims and get conviction rates up so we can bring more offenders to justice.”

The Met Police use of body-worn video cameras in call-outs to domestic violence incidents is also becoming increasingly important in gathering evidence needed to secure convictions – with boroughs like Sutton and Havering using the cameras to achieve a conviction rate of 80 percent.

Commander Christine Jones MPS ACPO Lead for Domestic Abuse: "Victims and survivors of domestic abuse can often feel isolated and unsupported when proceeding through the criminal justice process. This often causes them to withdraw their support for prosecutions and this can lead to a higher than average attrition rate in domestic abuse cases. Victims and survivors are denied access to justice and perpetrators are not punished for their actions. The demand on the criminal justice process is significant and withdrawing from the process causes significant inefficiency and cost. This proposal seeks to address the imbalance of services for Domestic Abuse and provide a minimum standard of support for victims and survivors. It complements the Total Victim Care element of Operation Dauntless and offers a consistent level of service across London. I have no doubt this improved consistency and join up between IDVA services across London will lead to an improved victim and survivor experience and a reduction in attrition. This will reduce costs to the criminal justice system, but most importantly give better access and support for victims and survivors of this pernicious type of offence."

Jeff Gardner, Director for London for the charity Victim Support, said: “Every day our team helps someone in London to get support or find safe refuge from domestic violence or relationship abuse. From supporting thousands of victims of this crime in the capital, many of whom are children, we know how much courage it takes them to seek help. The physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial harm domestic violence victims suffer means the crime can easily go unnoticed. That's why it's critical that specialist help is there for them to turn to, to help them rebuild their lives and for them to get justice.

"Being chosen by the Mayor to run this new service for domestic violence victims in London recognises our expertise and track record of delivering innovative local services. We're working with partners across the capital so that vulnerable people get the help they so desperately need. Victim Support offers practical support and advice to domestic violence victims and helps get families get to safety. Our expert team can support them through giving statements to the police and testifying in court, if they want to press charges against their abuser.”

The Mayor’s announcement comes ahead of an event at City Hall to mark International Women's Day. With a particular focus on domestic violence it is being hosted by Joan Smith, co-chair of the Mayor’s Violence Against Women and Girls Panel.

She will be joined by representatives from Refuge charity, the country’s largest provider of specialist support services to women and children escaping domestic violence, including women who have used the service.

For more details visit www. To view MOPAC’s latest dashboard visit www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-crime/data-information.

Notes to editors

• In 2013, of 8,355 cases that were prosecuted in Magistrates Courts in London, successful prosecutions were achieved in only 63.9% (5,341) cases. In the 1,354 cases prosecuted in Crown Courts the number was slightly less at 62.6% (848) successful prosecutions. The national average for Magistrates Court in the same year was 74.4 per cent and 76.1 percent in Crown Court.

• The ‘Domestic and Sexual Violence Dashboard’ shows that more perpetrators are being brought to justice than in previous years- using March 2012 as a baseline the year to December 2014 saw an increase of 3,349 offenders proceeded against or 18.6%

• The Pan London Domestic Violence Service is a Mayoral manifesto commitment. It an additional 40.5 independent domestic violence advocates (IDVAs) supporting all high risk victims of domestic violence and 16 additional posts directly supporting medium and standard risk victims/survivors going through the criminal justice system

• The service will also ensure better strategic coordination so victims get high-quality support from all agencies involved and innovation to improve the victim/survivor experience through and reduce attrition from the criminal justice process.

• Since 2008 the Mayor has invested nearly £5 million to quadruple the rape crisis provision in London. A further £3.85m from MOPAC’s London Crime Prevention Fund (LCPF) has gone towards projects tackling violence against women and girls, including domestic violence perpetrator programmes, funding for a number of Independent Sexual and Domestic Violence Advocates ‘One Stop Shop’ service

• The Mayor jointly funds (£2.2 million per year) the Sexual Assault Referral Centres (Havens) in London with NHS England London Region.

• As part of the Mayor’s Police and Crime Plan, he pledged greater transparency over crime data. The Domestic and Sexual Violence dashboard, the latest in a series of dashboards, shows domestic and sexual violence data for three key VAWG outcomes the Mayor is seeking to achieve. These are increased levels of reporting and perpetrators being brought to justice and reduced levels of repeat victimisation. To view the dashboard visit www.london.gov.uk/mopac

• It shows that recorded domestic violence is increasing year on year in London. In 2014 there were over 64,000 recorded domestic abuse offences in London, which is an increase of 11,000 crimes compared to 2013. Despite this it still remains a severely under-reported crime, with nationally the police reported to be unaware of 81 percent of domestic abuse victims.

• Over a third (22,000) of the offences recorded in 2014 were ‘violence with injury’, which also represent a third of all violence with injury offences (i.e. those including non-domestic violence crimes) recorded in the same period.

• Recorded offences indicate that 80 percent of domestic abuse victims were women, although it known that the proportion is in fact higher when perpetrators also recording crimes are removed.

• International Women’s Day will take place between 2.00-4.30pm on 9 March 2015 at City Hall.