Corporate report – Annual Report of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner – Home Office

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A Patchwork of Provision: how to meet the needs of victims and survivors of domestic abuse in England & Wales illustrates the ‘postcode lottery’ in the response to domestic abuse, and particularly the additional barriers faced by victims and survivors from minoritised communities, and the disproportionate lack of funding faced by specialist ‘By and For’ services. The Commissioner will continue to focus on this work and making use of this data and evidence to press for increased service provision for all victims and survivors, including their children.

To meet this priority the Commissioner is calling on the Government to introduce a new duty through the Victims and Prisoners Bill to provide and fund community based services, including for children. The Bill should be amended to place a duty on local commissioners to conduct needs assessments, along with a new central government obligation to provide adequate funding to meet that need.

In particular, the Government must create a national funding pot of at least £263m for ‘By and For’ services over three years. More support must also be made available for children and migrant survivors. Many of these ‘By and For’ services require a regional or national approach to build towards adequate capacity.

Family Justice
Problems with the Family Court remain the most common issue that victims and survivors contact my office about. Significant issues with the Family Court and how it supports victims and survivors and keeps children safe are well evidenced, including from the Ministry of Justice’s Harm Panel Report, and our Improving the Family
Court’s response to domestic abuse report. We will be publishing a follow-up report setting out further recommendations on how to improve the response from the Family Court and will publish the outcomes of the Family Court Monitoring Mechanism.

Migrant survivors
Victims and survivors of domestic abuse with insecure immigration status face some of the most significant barriers to accessing support. Not only can perpetrators use their immigration status as a tool for coercion and control – a concept known as ‘immigration abuse’ – but the lack of access to public funds by some survivors locks them out of seeking safety through refuge or other safe accommodation. Equally, the lack of a ‘firewall’ between immigration enforcement and the police prevents survivors from reporting their abuser to the police safely. I have published two reports, Safety Before Status, making recommendations to improve access to support for all victims and survivors, regardless of their immigration status. I will
continue to work closely on this issue with the specialist ‘By and For’ sector and government.

I am calling for the government to provide dedicated funding for specialist by and for organisations supporting migrant survivors of domestic abuse, the creation of an immediate firewall between police and immigration enforcement, accompanied by safe reporting mechanisms and funded referral pathways to support, as well as the extension of the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession and the Domestic Violence Indefinite Leave to Remain provisions.

Domestic Homicides and Suicides
Following the establishment of the Domestic Homicides and Suicides Oversight Mechanism, I will publish annual reports setting out key findings and analyse key themes from domestic homicide reviews and other relevant reviews. This will include research findings, recommendations for local agencies, as well as national government to support implementation of DHR recommendations and action plans to better learn lessons and prevent future deaths.

Children and Young People
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 recognised children as victims in their own right for the first time. This was a crucial step forward, but still, just 29 per cent of victims and survivors reported that they were able to access the specialist support they wanted
for their children. I will therefore undertake work to better understand how children 10 affected by domestic abuse should be supported and will publish recommendations on how to improve this response.

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