GREATER ROLE IN TACKLING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE URGED FOR LOCAL AUTHORITIES
The New Local Government Network is calling for local authorities to be given a greater role in tackling domestic violence. It argues that councils can pull various bodies together to deal with the problem. Home Office figures show an incident of domestic violence is reported to police every minute.
In “Domestic Issues: The Role of Local Authorities in Tackling Domestic Abuse”, the think tank says councils are best placed to bring together cross-cutting agencies in areas such as criminal justice and health and social exclusion to deliver strategies to reduce the level of domestic violence in their areas. The pamphlet acknowledges that central Government has raised the profile of domestic violence policy, but it argues that there is still too great a focus on criminal justice. The authors also raise concerns about the recent division of the Home Office, which they fear may reduce the emphasis on domestic violence policy.
The pamphlet wants councils to extend and support the role of domestic violence co-ordinators and to raise awareness and understanding of cross-cutting issues across all service departments and councillors. It wants Domestic Violence Partnerships to be formed so there is space and opportunity for cross-service working. To achieve this, it says, local authorities should encourage and demand input from all relevant local agencies, including local magistrates, health services, housing associations, the police, women’s workers, education authorities, community groups and religious groups.
NLGN Researcher, Anthony Brand said, domestic violence was a local issue. “The social, cultural and environmental factors that influence domestic violence in Tower Hamlets may not be the same as those in Torquay. These factors can and should influence the way that resources and services are targeted locally. There is a need for flexibility to design local services around local need,” he said and added, “If time and resource were dedicated to improving responses to domestic violence, local authorities could save millions and improve the lives of everyone in their constituencies, not just victims. And there are wider benefits for local authorities taking the lead on this, benefits that extend beyond the domestic violence agenda”.