London Councils welcomed the return of the Domestic Abuse Bill in the Queen’s Speech, which will help address London’s unacceptably high rates of domestic abuse.
London boroughs commission a network of refuges for domestic abuse survivors and their families who need to leave their home or local area. They also fund local prevention and support services and collaborate via the London Councils Grants Programme to fund pan-London specialist services such as support for LGBT+ domestic abuse survivors.
The Domestic Abuse Bill is expected to propose a statutory definition of domestic abuse, the creation of Domestic Abuse Protection Orders for perpetrators of abuse and introduce a new Domestic Abuse Commissioner. The government is also set to include new proposals for funding domestic abuse refuges and a new statutory duty for local authorities in the Bill.
Domestic abuse is on the rise in London, with the number of reports of abuse increasing 63 per cent between 2010 and 2018. Last year, there were more than 85,000 reported incidents of domestic abuse and 29 domestic homicides in London, a three-fold increase from the previous year.
Cllr Peter John OBE, Chair of London Councils, said:
“Such high rates of domestic abuse are unacceptable. Domestic abuse damages the lives of everyone it affects, especially children. At Christmas and New Year, when reports of domestic abuse do sadly increase, we must do everything we can to address the causes of abuse and help survivors rebuild their lives.
“New legislation is vital to strengthening protection and support for survivors and their families and needs to be supported by the right level of resources to bring real change.
“Boroughs support the Domestic Abuse Bill being brought forward in the Queen’s Speech and will join forces with the capital’s MPs to ensure it works for Londoners.
“We hope that the bill also presages sustainable funding for refuges and improve access to protection for migrant survivors of abuse who have no recourse to public funds.”
Fiona Dwyer, CEO of Solace Women’s Aid, said:
“Our vision is of a world where women and children live freely from all forms of male violence. As the leading domestic and sexual violence charity in London, supporting almost 23,000 women, children and young people a year, we know that the Domestic Abuse Bill has the potential to save lives.
“The Bill has already faced significant delays, and while women continue to experience life-threatening abuse we cannot afford to see further deferrals.
“Solace is calling for the urgent reintroduction of this landmark legislation alongside commitment for long-term, sustainable funding of specialist services. Equally we will continue to work with others across the sector to ensure that key amendments around housing, immigration and the family court system are agreed, so no survivor is left behind.”
London has a higher level of refuge provision compared to other areas, totalling 23 per cent of total bed spaces across England and Wales.
Next year, London Councils will put forward proposals for greater collaboration to improve refuge provision as part of London Councils’ Pledges to Londoners.