Webinar – Public Policy Exchange – Building on the Domestic Abuse Act to Better Protect and Support Victims and Survivors

Date of Event: Thursday, October 20th 2022

Time of Event: 9:30 AM — 1:00 PM

Place of Event: Webinar

Key Speakers

Rebecca Goshawk, Head of Partnerships and Public Affairs at Solace Women’s Aid
Cyrene Siriwardhana, Legal and Policy Advisor at Surviving Economic Abuse

Overview

The Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) indicates that one in four women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetime and 8% will suffer domestic violence in a given year. On average, two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner. The number of domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by police in England and Wales increased by 6% in the year ending March 2021 to 845,734. This followed further increases in recent years. A total of 1,459,663 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes were recorded by police in the year to March 2021. In 73% of cases, the victim of domestic abuse-related crimes was female. Domestic abuse remains acutely underreported, however. CSEW data for the year ending March 2018 suggest that only 18% of women who had experienced abuse from a partner in the 12-month period reported the abuse to the police.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021, which gained royal assent in April 2021, aims to make changes to better protect survivors of domestic abuse and strengthen measures to address the behaviour of perpetrators. The Act creates a legal definition of domestic abuse to provide clarity that domestic abuse can be financial, verbal and emotional as well as physical and sexual and that critically it is about patterns of abuse over time. Furthermore, children are explicitly recognised as victims if they witness abuse. Measures in the Act also include the introduction of new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders. The Act also created the position of Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales, with statutory powers to help drive change nationally.

In January 2021, the UK government also announced it had partnered with UK pharmacies to launch the ‘Ask for ANI scheme’ (Action Needed Immediately) to help survivors. Pharmacies participating are supposed to display material to let survivors know that trained staff are available to offer a safe and private space, with the option to call the police or other support services if needed.

The Law Society has noted that the Domestic Abuse Act alone will not be enough, that services for victims of domestic abuse must be properly funded, and that the new legislation must be supported by a full programme of education. The charity Action Violence & Abuse (AVA) has underlined that women survivors of domestic abuse face numerous barriers to accessing help and support and disclosing abuse. These barriers include: lack of recognition that the abuse is happening; feelings of guilt and shame; and lack of awareness of available support. The charity also highlights research suggesting that women from minority, marginalised or disadvantaged communities or backgrounds, or those with protected characteristics, including Black and minoritised women, lesbian, bisexual and trans women, older and disabled women, face higher rates of domestic abuse and additional barriers to support.

A year on from the passing of the 2021 Act, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, recognised that “there’s far more to be done to support victims, to tackle the causes of domestic abuse and hold perpetrators to account”, noting that “there needs to be far more focus on prevention, early intervention and a more co-ordinated community response.” The Commissioner proposes that to better support victims of domestic abuse, the Victims Bill, presented to Parliament in May 2022, “provides the perfect opportunity to ensure that community-based services get the recognition and funding they need to plug some of the gaps which were left unfilled in the Domestic Abuse Act”, including in relation to “advocacy, safety planning, therapeutic support and counselling, support for children, and work with perpetrators to change their behaviour.” The Commissioner also calls on the government to provide £18.7m over three years to ensure that victims without recourse to public funds can access support, accommodation and subsistence.

This symposium will look at the legacy of the pandemic on the incidence, nature and victims of domestic abuse, and discuss the impact of the Domestic Abuse Act and how the Act can best be implemented by key stakeholders.

Programme

  • Plan and implement effective intervention strategies to identify and support victims early
  • Evaluate the extent to which the passing of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 has adequately addressed the complex and urgent needs of domestic abuse survivors
  • Examine how the Victims Bill can be shaped to ensure better support for victims of domestic abuse
  • Explore the impact of the pandemic on levels of domestic abuse
  • Address gaps in specialist training for police forces on how to respond to domestic violence cases
  • Discuss the changing profile of abusers and what practical and policy changes should be considered
  • Understand what the Domestic Abuse Act means for local authorities and how they can effectively meet their statutory duty to deliver a strategy
  • Examine ways to address the fundamental drivers of domestic violence 
  • Analyse the inequalities which are present in current and proposed efforts to address domestic abuse, particularly with regard to migrant women, economically vulnerable women, and women from minority, marginalised or disadvantaged communities or backgrounds, or those with protected characteristics  
  • Discuss collaborative and partnership opportunities for various agencies and departments, including the role of pharmacies
  • Scrutinise the current legal remedies which are in place to protect the abused and punish the abuser and their efficacy in practice 
  • Review the ways in which domestic abuse has changed in recent years, considering the effect of the internet, the increasing recognition of economic abuse, and the impact of domestic violence upon children
  • Develop effective strategies for protecting and supporting survivors of domestic abuse, at national, regional and local levels

Who Should Attend?

  • Central Government Departments and Agencies
  • Charities and Non-Governmental Organisations
  • Children’s Specialist Safeguarding Nurse
  • Children’s Trusts and Children’s Centres
  • Children and Youth Services
  • Clinical Leads
  • Commissioning and Partnerships Manager
  • Community Midwives
  • Community Support Officers
  • Counselling Services
  • Criminal Justice Practitioners
  • Domestic Violence Co-ordinators
  • Families Services Officers
  • Health Service Professionals
  • Heads of Community Protection
  • Independent Domestic Violence Advocates
  • Local Authorities
  • Neighbourhood Managers
  • Police and security services
  • Welfare Reform Officers
  • Youth Mentors

Book your place here.

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