The Home Secretary has allocated more than £28 million for specialist services to tackle violence against women and girls until 2015..
Services which support victims of sexual and domestic violence will continue to receive central Home Office funding, including local domestic and sexual violence advisors, services for high-risk domestic violence victims, national helplines and work to prevent forced marriage.
The cross-government vision and long term priorities for tackling violence against women and girls will be followed by a full plan of action next spring. Four key areas of focus are highlighted; the prevention of violence including reducing repeat victimisation, the provision of support, the bringing together of groups to work in partnership and action to reduce risk by ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice.
For the first time the strategy brings together work to tackle violence against women in the UK with details of the international approach to tackle this global problem - including that Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone has been appointed Overseas Champion to lead on the UK’s international work. Key themes of the strategy include:
- early intervention - making sure young people understand the importance of healthy relationships and respect the right to say no
- the importance of training - for professionals and frontline staff to spot early signs and risk factors of domestic and sexual violence, child sexual abuse, and harmful practices - including a new e-learning training course for GPs on violence against women and children
- new powers - helping domestic violence victims break the cycle of abuse including piloting Domestic Violence Protection Orders which allow police to ban alleged abusers from returning to the victim’s home for several weeks
- support for victims - ensuring that women who are in the country on spousal visas and who are forced to flee their relationship as a direct result domestic violence are supported
- international work - supporting innovative new projects in the poorest
countries and working with international organisations and governments overseas to promote women’s rights globally and reduce the impact of conflict on women and girls.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: ‘Our aim is clear; we want to end violence against women and girls. We must ensure offenders are brought to justice, victims are given support and most importantly challenge attitudes and behaviour.
‘Too often this hidden crime sees victims afraid to seek support. That is why Home Office funding for frontline support services will be protected for four years.
‘Ending violence against women is a priority for me but central government cannot solve this complex problem alone. I want to send a clear message to local agencies - including police, councils and the health service - that tackling violence against women should be a priority for them too.’
Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said: ‘It’s horrifying that we still have a society where some children are growing up with domestic violence a part of their everyday family life, and even worse when they are the victims of abuse from their parents or carers - the very people who are meant to protect them from harm. We must stamp out these vicious crimes and make sure that children see that this behaviour is unacceptable.
‘We are putting more trust in professionals and freeing them from unnecessary paperwork and targets so they can spend more time with vulnerable families and prevent the cycle of abuse from repeating through the generations. Schools are also in a unique position to help children understand from an early age what a healthy relationship looks like and empower them to say no to violence.’
Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: ‘Violence against women and children is unacceptable. It leads to poor mental health, unwanted pregnancies, sexually-transmitted infections and substance misuse. The effects can last a lifetime and have a profound impact on the victims, and also their family and friends. The after effects of violence can carry on for many years.
‘For many victims, doctors and nurses are the first or only person they can turn to. It’s critical that health professionals have the skills to identify victims of violence and offer appropriate support.
‘I’ve seen excellent work in specialist centres, so we’re making more money available to improve and expand them. Women and children can then be referred to the right services. For some, there may be only one chance to save a life.’
Last year there were more than one million female victims of domestic violence in England and Wales - nearly two women each minute. And every week two of those women lose their lives at the hands of a current or former partner. Each year more than 300,000 were women sexually assaulted and 60,000 were women raped. Overall in the UK, more than one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.
Notes to Editors
2. Figures derived from 2009/10 British Crime Survey data.
3. For further information call Home Office press office 020 7035 3535.
4. National support helplines:
Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Refuge and Women’s Aid, 0808 2000 247
Broken Rainbow provides support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people experiencing domestic abuse - 0300 999 LGBT (5428)
Men’s Advice Line: provides advice and support for men in abusive relationships - 0808 801 0327
Respect provides advice to perpetrators of domestic violence - 0845 122 8609
Forced Marriage Helpline 020 7008 0151