Solace calls for Government to put community-based services for victims of domestic abuse on a statutory footing in the forthcoming Victims’ Bill

The Ministry of Justice held a consultation on proposals to include in the forthcoming Victims’ Bill to improve victims’ experiences of the criminal justice system. We submitted a response following consultation with frontline staff and based on our work supporting over 23,000 women and children in 2020/21. Our response focused on putting community-based services on a statutory footing to ensure more sustainable, long-term funding for specialist VAWG and led ‘by and for’ organisations and better provisions for children and young people who are victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. In our response, we are making the key recommendations outlined below. 

Improving Commissioning 

  • The Government should include in the Victims’ Bill a new statutory duty on relevant bodies (including Police and Crime Commissioners, Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities) to commission community-based services. Sustainable, multi-year funding settlements should be provided for all forms of service provision for victim/survivors, children and young people and perpetrators. All public funding for VAWG support should promote women-centred, trauma-informed, needs-led, holistic, accessible and wraparound support services.  

  • Funding for specialist led ‘by and for’ organisations working with Black and minoritised women, women with no recourse to public funds and insecure immigration status, Deaf and disabled women and LGBT+ survivors should be ringfenced by commissioners. Local commissioners should encourage partnerships between specialist and led ‘by and for’ VAWG organisations to provide a comprehensive range of specialist support to meet local need. 

Furthering advocacy 

  • The police should ensure every victim/survivor of VAWG is referred to an independent advocate specialising in the form of abuse they have suffered at the point of reporting. The Government should review the number of cases and the length of time advocates are commissioned to work with victim/survivors.  

  • The Government should review the current structures of accrediting and training, including for working with children and young people, to increase the number and variety of training providers and specialisms. Commissioners should build training and accreditation costs into their budgets and tenders. 

Supporting marginalised groups 

  • The Government should fund all local authorities to commission wraparound holistic services and specialist legal immigration advice through community-based services for victim/survivors with no recourse to public funds or insecure immigration status.  Data sharing between the Home Office and statutory services should be suspended with safe reporting mechanisms and funded pathways to support for victim/survivors with insecure immigration service established.  

  • The Government should ensure appropriate language and BSL interpretation services are available to all victim/survivors who need them. 

Read our full submission here:

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