General results – March 2018
Main Results Of Enquiry:
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.
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
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. The total population in the thirty two Boroughs in June 2016 was 8.78 million people, this comprising 1.79 million children under age 16, 5.65 million people between 16 and 59, and 1.34 million older people age 60 and over. The number of adults of 16 and over in the London area in 2016 was thus 6.99 million.
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 pan- London services provided by MOPAC.
(3) Of particular note is that emergency or temporary accommodation, for male victims generally and for female victims not accommodated in refuges, appeared to be provided by only twelve Boroughs. If correct, this would leave such victims in other Boroughs possibly exposed to homelessness if they were forced out of their homes, and dependent on the voluntary and/or charitable sector for shelter.
(4) Also surprising was the indication that about half the Boroughs appear not to help victims with improving home security, since according to one charity(1), all Boroughs in London operate a sanctuary project, although presumably limited only to those victims who do not own their home or hold a sole tenancy.
(5) The same charity also concludes that most London Boroughs do not accept single persons fleeing domestic violence as being vulnerable simply by reason of the violence, and require another reason on top of this to be found vulnerable and in priority need. They also believe that a single man who does not have children and has exhausted all the local authority requirements, and there are no immediate spaces in emergency hostels, may have no option but to ‘sleep rough’.
(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.
(5) It is also unclear to what extent equality law has been applied by Boroughs and the London Councils to this issue. The 2006 Act defines ‘equality’ as meaning ‘equality between individuals’ (Section 8(2), ie. individuals comparably affected should receive comparable treatment. In contrast, under the 2010 Act, the Public Sector Equality Duty allows unequal treatment of some groups in order to advance the cause of other groups deemed to be at a disadvantage. However, any such treatment is likely to be deemed unlawful if it involved a direct discrimination, eg. a service only for one sex when both sexes may be affected, albeit to a different degree.
(6) It is difficult not to conclude that male victims of DVA, despite forming about one quarter of those DVA victims reporting to the police, and about one third of DVA victims reporting to national crime surveys, remain in the London Boroughs a minority group without much obvious serious socio-political support and disadvantaged in respect of services and concern.
(7) Although there has been increasing recognition of their numbers and plight in recent years, particularly by the police, there appear to be areas elsewhere in the public sector, where the majority concerns of female victims dominate. The apparent increasing over-arching focus on VAWG initiatives by public authorities in London
is not only unfair in name to male victims, albeit fewer in total numbers, but under this title may well further deter many male victims from presenting to them.
(8) Male victims of DVA in London in general appear to be a disadvantaged group, in part possibly because they form a minority of victims. If this is indeed the case, should not the Public Sector Equality Duty also equally apply to them?
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 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.
(4) Due to the incompleteness of this data, it is not possible to give an estimate of the total number of people in London served in this way for comparison with the police records. However, some comparison can be made with information provided by the fourteen Boroughs which did indicate total numbers presenting for services, although such data is probably indicative rather than accurate.
(5) For females, total reports in 2016/17 to the police in these fourteen Boroughs amounted to 23,907, this from a total adult female population (16 and over) in these Boroughs of approximately 1,490 thousand (1.490 million), thus giving a ratio of 1.60 females per hundred population (1.6%). Ratios for individual Boroughs ranged from 0.93 per hundred (Richmond-upon-Thames) to 2.10 per hundred (for Greenwich).
The comparable overall ratio for male victims was 0.5 per hundred adult male population.
(6) The comparable ratio for adult females, based on the numbers indicated by the Boroughs as having been provided with services, was overall 0.93 per hundred population in these Boroughs, ranging from a low of 0.04 per hundred (Merton) to a high of 3.16 per hundred (Greenwich). The comparable overall rate for adult males was 0.03 per hundred, confirming that far fewer male victims of DVA complain to their Boroughs than comparable females.
(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 IDVA service only for female victims. Five Boroughs appeared not provide this service at all.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(12) Some form of outreach service was provided by the majority of Boroughs, generally for both sexes, although this possibly involved a different service for each sex. Three Boroughs appeared to have no outreach service at all. Information provided by the Boroughs about Outreach services is shown in Table 3.
Emergency/temporary accommodation by non-public organisations:
(23) Charitable and other organisations in London which can, or help to, provide emergency/temporary accommodation to victims of domestic violence/abuse of both sexes include Shelter, St Mungos, Centrepoint Housing (to age 25), Victim Support and various other localised charities. Housing associations such as Hestia can be commissioned by Boroughs to provide temporary accommodation, although it is understood that at present Hestia has no such commissions for male victims.
Emergency access hostels:
(24) This option is usually for ‘rough’ sleepers and is fairly basic – usually a room and shared bathroom and kitchen. Contact and assessment teams (CAT) are teams of support workers who each night aim to detect rough sleepers and try to ensure that emergency access hostels prioritise them.
(25) These are designed to provide medium term housing for people who need somewhere to live but have additional support needs, including people fleeing domestic violence but also those with mental health, drug or alcohol issues.