Domestic Violence / Abuse Services In London – March 2018

General Enquiry using FOI Requests into Domestic Violence services in London in 2016/17:

Locations of London Boroughs: Courtesy GLA map

1.) Hackney & City
2.) Hammersmith & Fulham
3.) Kensignton & Chelsea
4.) Westminster

Introduction:

Those who suffer violence or abuse in a family or partner setting, especially of a severe or chronic nature, are urged to report it to the police or other authority. However, many prefer not to report it officially but do reveal it to work friends, colleagues, medics, close relatives or others. A significant proportion do not report it all, and either live with it, or, if this is not feasible, leave the joint residence. This general enquiry is largely restricted to identifying those services which are available from local authorities in London for those victims who report to them.

Method:

To obtain this information, a Freedom of Information Request (FOIR) was sent to each of the thirty two main London Boroughs in autumn 2017 seeking details of the services provided by each Borough for victims of domestic violence/abuse (DVA) reporting to them in 2016/17. The wording of the Request can be found in Appendix 1.

A similar Request was also made to the Greater London Authority (GLA) since this, via the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), provides certain pan-London DVA services on behalf of or in addition to the Boroughs. A FOIR was also made to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to establish the number of persons reporting DVA to the Police in the London area during 2016/17.

Enquiries were also made to a number of organisations which provide or help arrange temporary accommodation, including for persons who may have become homeless as a result of domestic abuse and who are not supported by their Borough or MOPAC. The detailed results of the enquiry are presented in Tables 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Summary of conclusions:

(1) The results suggest (see summary table below), that the two main services provided by the Boroughs during 2016/17 comprised a limited amount of refuge accommodation for female victims and young children (28 Boroughs), and the availability of Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVAs) for both sexes (22 Boroughs). (2) To a lesser extent, help was given with improving home sanctuary/security for both sexes (15 Boroughs). Outreach provision of some form was also provided by most Boroughs (see Table 3), with a variety of services, these supplemented by panLondon services provided by MOPAC.

Main results of enquiry:

Key results of the enquiries to the London Boroughs are shown in Table 2 (page 10). One Borough provided no information on the cost of services provided. Overall, it appears that the main services provided during year 2016/17 are (i) the availability of Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVAs) by nearly all Boroughs, (ii) sanctuary/security provision by some Boroughs, (iii) refuge provision for females only by nearly all Boroughs, and (iv) some form of outreach services by nearly all Boroughs – see also Table 3 (page 11). Some outreach services were also provided by MOPAC.

Numbers reporting DVA to Boroughs:

(1) The numbers of DVA victims presenting to the sixteen Boroughs which provided this information (see Table 4 on page 12), during year 2016/17 totalled 16,522. For the fourteen Boroughs which gave separate figures for each sex, some 13,877 were female and only 437 male, a proportion of male victims of a mere 3%. Such a minimal proportion, compared to the one third estimated overall for any domestic abuse in England and Wales by the British Crime Survey for 2016/17, and the one quarter registered by the Metropolitan Police in 2016/17, suggests either unusual circumstances applying in London, or that, with some exceptions, the London Boroughs generally do not do enough to attract male victims to report to them.

(2) The total number of female victims given as presenting to these fourteen Boroughs of 13,877 represents about 58% of the total number of DVA female victims reporting to the police in these Boroughs. For male victims, the proportion is only about 6%, supporting the view that there is a considerable under-reporting to the Boroughs by male victims.

Numbers of persons provided with services:

(3) Boroughs were asked to give details of the total numbers of people provided with the range of services available. Some Boroughs did provide information in this respect, but others very little or none at all, presumably not necessarily having this information if the service had been outsourced. The actual extent of information provided in shown in Table 4.

DVAs:

(7) An IDVA service for both sexes was provided by twenty two Boroughs, with two more possibly catering also for male victims, although this was not clear. Two Boroughs provided an I DVA service only for female victims. Five Boroughs appeared not provide this service at all.

MARAC:

(8) The provision of Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences, these comprising regular local meetings of professionals to discuss how best to help victims of both sexes at high risk of
harm, was provided apparently by only a minority of Boroughs, although possibly MOPAC services helped in this respect in some Boroughs.

Sanctuary/home security:

(9) This service, improving the security of victims own accommodation, appeared to be provided, for both sexes, by only about half of the Boroughs.

Emergency accommodation:

(10) This service was provided directly by only twelve Boroughs, and this possibly only for females by four of them. This general lack of such a service is puzzling, bearing in mind the possible extent of family or partner violence or abuse in the London area, and the legal responsibility of local authorities to provide temporary accommodation in such situations for vulnerable persons with
priority needs.

Refuge provision:

(11) Except for four Boroughs, all the other twenty eight provided limited access to refuge accommodation, for females (and children) only, if places were available.

Costs to Boroughs:

(14) Thirty one Boroughs each provided their outlay for DVA services, this totalling £16,325 thousand (£16.325 million). Individual Boroughs ranged from the highest (Croydon) at £1,180 thousand (£1.180 million) to the lowest (Hammersmith & Fulham) at £87 thousand. See Table 5 (page 13). DVA services in London Equal Services for All? March (March 2018).

6(15) The outlay for refuges was given by sixteen Boroughs, this totalling £3,119 thousand (£3.119 million), about 37% of the total outlay for all services by these Boroughs.

General conclusions:

(1) There is a clear distinction between the numbers of DVA victims in the London Boroughs reporting to the Metropolitan Police and those presenting to the Boroughs and elsewhere in respect of services, in particular by male victims. One in four DVA victims presenting to the police is male, compared to (for the fourteen Boroughs providing such information) the 3% presenting to these particular Boroughs and to the 7.6% presenting to MOPAC. (2) In 2016/17, 23,907 adult females from these fourteen particular Boroughs reported DVA to the Metropolitan Police Service, compared to 7,583 males, a proportion of about 24% males. The same fourteen Boroughs reported to this enquiry that 13,874 females had presented to them in the same period on DVA issues, compared to only 437 males, a proportion of male victims of only about 3%. The MOPAC proportion of 7.6% for males reporting was of similar lower order. Both these very low measures suggest a significant under-reporting by male victims to support services generally, even by those who suffer serious or chronic violence or abuse.

National Crime Surveys for England and Wales have found that male victims account for over 20% of victims of chronic domestic violence or abuse and over 30% of those reporting physical injury of some form(6).

(3) The information provided by some Boroughs was incomplete and by others minimal. Despite this, it appears that overall, although most Boroughs provide some services for male victims, the main thrust of services is aimed at female victims (and their children) increasingly through VAWG initiatives. It is accepted that certain ethnic populations have particular problems affecting such thrust. However, any apparent bias in services (and/or attitudes) as a result of this, can only
further discourage male victims generally from presenting to Boroughs and the MOPAC pan-London services.

And whilst this perception continues, male victims generally are likely to receive inferior responsive services.

(4) The lack of any pan-London emergency refuge accommodation or shelter for male victims and their children, in a city of some 7 million adults, is particularly startling. This is surely an issue of sex equality deserving urgent attention by the London Councils.

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