01 Dec 2022

A patchwork of provision

This week the Domestic Abuse Commissioner released the results of an 18-month mapping exercise across England and Wales. The research involved over 500 service providers, over 150 local commissioning bodies, and more than 4,000 victims and survivors. A Patchwork of Provision reveals a ‘postcode lottery’ in the response to domestic abuse.

This is the first time a large-scale mapping exercise has been undertaken this way and the results and analysis demonstrate the inequality in service provision for victims and survivors of domestic abuse; both in levels of domestic abuse service from area to area, and between different groups and ethnicities of victims and survivors.

A summary of some of the key points:

  • Specialist services are effective in enabling victims and survivors to feel safer and more in control of their lives following abuse. Victims and survivors need a range of types of support to help them find safety and to cope and recover from abuse
  • Most victims and survivors from minoritised communities want to receive support delivered ‘by and for’ their own community. This is because specialist ‘by and for’ organisations are far more effective in supporting minoritised victims and survivors than other types of services. Black and minoritised survivors were more than twice as likely to say they felt safer having accessed an organisation run specifically ‘by and for’ their community, than those who hadn’t accessed any support. However, evidence from minoritised victims and survivors showed that they found it particularly difficult to access the support they wanted, there is a grave lack of specialised ‘by and for’ provision. Minoritised groups face increased disadvantage when they try to access help – these services are also six times less likely to get statutory funding
  • There were huge gaps in the ability of services to provide support to those with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). Accommodation-based services in particular struggled to provide support to migrant survivors with NRPF. Very worryingly nearly 15 per cent of community-based services said that they wouldn’t accept a referral and provide a full service to someone with NRPF based on their NRPF status
  • Overall, most victims were not able to access the support that they wanted. Insecure, short term and insufficient funding are key reason as services struggle to meet demand. Services struggle to build capacity and plan for the future, affecting efficiency, service delivery, along with recruitment and retention of staff
  • There exists a ‘postcode lottery’ for accessing specific types of support. This is also reflected in the funding provided by local commissioners
  • Men also particularly struggled to access help and support, with 82 per cent saying that accessing help was difficult or very difficult
  • There appeared to be a significant divergence between the proportion of organisations who said that they provided specialist support for children affected by domestic abuse
  • Half of survivors surveyed as part of the mapping exercise reported that they wanted their perpetrator to receive support to change their behaviour, but only seven per cent had access to this form of support.

The report goes on to make 26 clear recommendations for change to government. These include:

  • Long term sustainable funding is essential to save lives. Government should introduce a new duty through the Victims Bill to provide and fund domestic abuse services, including for children. The Bill should be amended to place a duty on local commissioners to collaborate and conduct needs assessments, along with a new central government obligation to provide adequate funding to meet that need
  • Government must create a national funding pot of £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
  • The government should carry out a full analysis of the cost to society of the consequences of domestic abuse, and the benefits of providing the support that victims and survivors need

Hannah Keilloh CIH policy and practice officer commented:

“Whilst we know that domestic abuse can happen to anyone, this report shows that sadly that who you are, and where you live, makes all the difference when it comes to accessing the support and services needed to rebuild your life. This report highlights some disturbing gaps for all victims and survivors but especially for victims from marginalised communities.

“It is important that DAC has undertaken this insightful research and set out such clear recommendations for change. We urge government to meet the challenge from DAC to deliver improvements for victims and survivors that would literally save lives.”