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Domestic abuse referrals rise

There was an average of 669 referrals a day from police to children’s services about domestic abuse in 2020-21, analysis by the NSPCC has found.

domestic abuse

Police made almost 245,000 referrals to social services for domestic abuse, an 8% increase on the previous year, with the charity fearing this could be the tip of the iceberg.

The NSPCC helpline last year also saw a record number of calls from people worried about domestic abuse.

Anna Edmundson, NSPCC Head of Policy and Public Affairs: “Sadly, we know these figures are the tip of the iceberg as domestic abuse often goes unreported. Domestic abuse can derail a childhood and it is unacceptable that support to recover remains patchy across the country, and what is available risks being axed by cash-strapped councils.”

During the pandemic children experiencing abuse were trapped at home and largely cut off from their support networks during lockdowns, which increased the risk they were experiencing.

In January 2022, children started to be officially recognised as victims of domestic abuse in the Domestic Abuse Act. However, the children’s charity remains concerned that this may not be enough to ensure support is in place for children.

The NSPCC highlights:

  • The latest Women’s Aid figures showed that 148,852 children were supported by community-based services compared to 11,890 children in refuges.

  • A report by Action for Children found that children face barriers to accessing support in two-thirds of 30 local authorities.

  • There were no support services available for children affected by domestic abuse in more than 10% of councils.

  • Currently, local authorities must, under the law, provide housing support when families and children need to escape domestic abuse. However, they do not have to provide specialist, therapeutic services for those who stay at home after suffering domestic abuse.

“Support is already patchy across the country and without a legal duty things could get worse if cash-strapped councils divert more resources to accommodation-based services, even though community-based services are better used,” said the children’s charity.

The government consultation for Victim’s Law closes this week and the NSPCC is urging Dominic Raab, Deputy Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor, to ensure all children affected by domestic abuse in England and Wales have access to local specialist and therapeutic services to support their recovery.

“We urge Dominic Raab to use the Victim’s Law to address this and ensure young victims of domestic abuse have easy access to professional services within their community so they can rebuild their lives no matter where they live,” concluded Anna Edmundson, NSPCC Head of Policy and Public Affairs.

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