Domestic abuse affects communities across all London boroughs and leaves a devastating impact on survivors, their families and the wider communities. Abuse can take many forms, including emotional and psychological abuse, physical and sexual violence, coercive and controlling behaviour, including economic abuse. Children are deeply affected by living with domestic violence and the harm experienced from witnessing abuse as a child is wide-ranging and well documented. Children have recently been recognised as victims of Domestic Abuse in their own right, in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
The local authorities role
Local authorities have an important to play in tackling domestic abuse, both in commissioning and providing vital services. Core local authority services all handle situations of domestic abuse and sexual violence on a daily basis and are key partners in the multi-agency approaches to tackling domestic abuse and sexual violence. These services can include:
- Children or Adult social care teams
- Housing and Homelessness
- Community Safety Teams
- ASB teams
- Schools and other educational settings
- Drug/alcohol services
Local authorities participate in and co-ordinate MARACs (Multiagency Risk Assessment Conferences), where partner agency come together to safeguard individuals in high risk cases of domestic abuse.
Local authorities in London deliver specialist VAWG services either through commissioning or delivering services in house. This support includes:
- Community Based Support Services, including Independent Domestic Abuse Advisers working in a range of settings
- Safe Accommodation such as refuge services
- Sanctuary Schemes, which support survivors to remain safely in their own homes
- Perpetrator Programmes
For more information, please contact:
Principal Policy and Projects Officer (Domestic Abuse, Violence Against Women and Girls, Women in contact with the Criminal Justice System and Public Health)
Housing is a critical element of effective domestic and sexual violence interventions. Under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, all eligible victims of domestic abuse who present as homelessness automatically receive priority housing need. including refuge provision. Refuges are commissioned by local authorities and provide safe accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence with specialist support on hand to help them recover and rebuild their lives.
Routes to Support Research
London Councils' Grants Programme funds Women’s Aid to carry out research on the provision and use of domestic violence services in London using the Routes to Support Database. The Routes to Support database holds up-to-date information on domestic abuse services across the UK and lists current refuge vacancies.
The current strand of research takes a closer look at pathways of women moving in and out of refuge in London boroughs and gathers additional data from London providers. London Councils funds this research to support boroughs and to offer a pan-London picture to inform wider strategic and commissioning aims around provision.
Pan London Housing Reciprocal
The Pan-London Housing Reciprocal is a voluntary collaboration between London boroughs and registered housing providers in London, co-ordinated centrally by Safer London. This innovative collaboration allows social housing tenants who are at risk of domestic abuse and other forms of abuse to move to another London borough without losing their secure tenancy. Between its launch in 2017 and March 2020, the Pan-London Housing Reciprocal facilitated almost 300 successful moves.
For more information or to make a referral, visit the Safer London website
The Domestic Abuse Act
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 contains a range of provisions to improve support for victims of Domestic Abuse and provide tools for tackling offenders. These provisions include:
- Creating a statutory definition of domestic abuse, emphasising that domestic abuse is not just physical violence, but can also be emotional, controlling or coercive, and economic abuse
- establishing in law the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and set out the Commissioner’s functions and powers
- placing a duty on local authorities in England to provide accommodation based support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation
- Provide that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance
- ensure that where a local authority, for reasons connected with domestic abuse, grants a new secure tenancy to a social tenant who had or has a secure lifetime or assured tenancy (other than an assured shorthold tenancy) this must be a secure lifetime tenancy
Accommodation Based Support Duty
Part 4 of the Act creates a statutory duty for Tier 1 local authorities to deliver support services for victims of domestic abuse and their children in safe accommodation. In London, the GLA/MOPAC is the Tier 1 authority. London Boroughs are Tier Two authorities and are obliged under the act to support the implementation as far as reasonably practicable. MOPAC has convened a London Partnership Board for the delivery for this duty, and there are Local authority representatives from:
- London Heads of Community Safety
- London Association of Directors of Children’s Services
- London Association of Directors of Adult Services
- London Association of Directors of Public Health
- London Housing Directors Group
- London Housing Needs and Homelessness Group