The government has been urged to increase the number of Independent Domestic Violence Advisors in hospital settings to support victims of domestic violence to get the help they need.
The Local Government Association says more practitioners are needed in hospital settings to identify victims of domestic violence and get them the help and support they need. Currently, only 10 percent of hospitals have access to such services.
The LGA is also calling on the government to adequately fund children’s services so they can provide early intervention services to children and families at risk of experiencing domestic violence.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board said: “All children deserve the chance of a bright future and we have a moral duty to do more than just pick up the pieces when things go wrong. Failure to invest in these services will have long term consequences for our country’s children and families and create crises which are much more expensive to solve in the long run.”
The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, warns that half of children who are assessed as “in need of extra help” by council child protection teams have experienced or witnessed domestic violence.
Evidence shows that children exposed to domestic violence are at greater risk of being involved in youth crime, or to experience behavioural problems in later in life. Thirty-four per cent of adults who witnessed domestic abuse in their home as a child have experienced abuse by a partner in later life, compared with 11 per cent of those who did not.
However, as the LGA has previously warned, children’s services are facing a £2bn shortfall by 2020. This means councils are left to fire-fight emergencies and prioritise children at immediate risk of harm rather than focus on early interventions to support children and families, prevent perpetrators re-offending and educate young people about healthy relationships.
The LGA is calling for the government to:
- Adequately fund children’s services so councils are able to support children who are in the highest level of need and invest in early intervention initiatives that provide support for children experiencing domestic violence.
- Increase the number of Independent Domestic Violence Advisers in hospital settings, as charities such as Safe Lives have advocated - currently, only around 10 per cent of hospitals have access to these practitioners who can spot abuse early, track behavioural red warning flags, and help victims get the support they need.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Domestic abuse is a horrendous crime which takes place behind the curtains in our communities, and can be psychological, physical, emotional and sometimes even life-threatening. It’s awful to imagine the pain and hurt that perpetrators inflict on victims and to think of children witnessing or even being victims of abuse.
“With almost two million victims of domestic abuse in the last year alone, we need the government to include early intervention and preventative measures in its comprehensive package of reforms to address domestic abuse as the best way to tackle this issue.
“The government needs to close the funding gap facing children’s services, which will reach at least £2 billion by 2020. An urgent injection of funding is also needed to protect the services that families rely on to tackle problems or recover from previous abuse.