As I write this on 25 November 2020, the United Nations is marking its official International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It is appropriate, therefore that last Wednesday (18th November), Ministers confirmed that there will be a major boost in funding for victims of rape and domestic abuse across the UK, and here in Leicestershire in particular.
Nearly £11 million going towards the support of victims during the winter and beyond and a further £7 million towards innovative programmes aimed at perpetrators to prevent domestic abuse from happening.
There will also be an introduction of a clearer set of rights for victims which will come into force on 1 April 2021. I support the action that the Conservative government is taking to help victims that need support and provide clearer rights for them.
This is great news as I am deeply concerned about this issue. Domestic abuse is a big problem in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland area.
According to the joint investigation by the BBC’s Panorama and Women’s Aid, it was found that there was one domestic abuse call every 30 seconds during the first 7 weeks of lockdown. And charities have reported a 46% rise in calls, which victims feeling that they are more at risk of harm reporting for the first time. This new boost in funding will help victims during the coming months as there may be greater demand for support this winter.
With this I can agree with Priti Patel’s statement that “My message to victims of domestic abuse during this unprecedented time is clear: You are not alone.”.
Priti Patel said that “This funding and our awareness campaign will help victims get the support they need, and police work is continuing throughout the winter to ensure victims are protected and those committing these crimes feel the full force of the law.”.
The renewal of the #YouAreNotAlone campaign will help direct those who need them to more resources online and support services. It will remind people that the new national restrictions do not apply if you are in danger at home. The new Victim’s Code sets 12 key rights which will include a new right for eligible victims to be automatically referred to the Victim Contact Scheme. I believe that this will have a great impact in providing further support to victims.
Priti Patel said that “It is also vital that we tackle the root causes of violent behaviour which is why we are funding perpetrator prevention programmes to identify serial offenders, and work with them to change their behaviour.”
Leicestershire was successfully able to bid for more than £240k from the Home Office. This grant is going towards the innovative programmes aimed at perpetrators to help offenders change their behaviours and prevent crimes from happening. Independent research shows that these programmes are able to reduce the risk of physical abuse, with one showing an 82% reduction in risk.
It is a sad fact that domestic abuse will never be a thing of the past, but we can work to help victims and to reduce offending in the future.