A £10m injection of funding for rape and domestic abuse support services has been widely welcomed but campaign groups have highlighted the need for a long-term solution to the problems faced by frontline support services. The new funding (here) is aimed at combating the increase in reports of domestic violence during the two national lockdowns. You can read here on the Justice Gap about the lack of support for victims of domestic abuse.
Ministers have pledged £10.1 million for ‘rape and domestic abuse support centres’. The government is also using £7.17 million to target programmes aimed at perpetrators to ‘help change behaviours and prevent these destructive crimes’. The Home Secretary, Priti Patel said it was ‘vital that we tackle the root causes of violent behaviour’. One of the programmes being funded is the Drive Partnership. According to a University of Bristol evaluation, Drive’s perpetrator intervention ‘reduc[ed] the use of abusive behaviours’ and, for example, sexual abuse was reduced by 88%. Drive’s Director, Kyla Kirkpatrick commented that the funding ‘offers a strong signal from government that abuse will not be tolerated’ and hoped]these investments marked ‘the first step towards a wider perpetrator strategy’.
Charities and campaign groups expressed concerns about the need for a long-term solution. ‘This funding is welcome, but it isn’t the long-term solution so desperately needed,’ said Lisa King, Refuge’s director of communictaions. ‘Specialist services need stability, not uncertainty, and the way to resolve that is with long term funding rather than short term fixes.’
These concerns were echoed by Nickiu Norman, acting chief exec for Women’s Aid. ‘It is vital this funding is simple for services to access and swift to be dispensed,’ she said; adding that the group called ‘urgently on the government to deliver a guarantee beyond March 2021 for sustainable funding’.