Extra £15m from City Hall to help tackle domestic abuse

Money will support projects providing safe accommodation for survivors as well as specialist counselling and outreach services, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

credit Dev Benjamin via Unsplash
credit Dev Benjamin via Unsplash

Sadiq Khan has announced a £15m funding package to help tackle what he calls a “hidden crisis” of domestic abuse in London.

The money will support a range of projects providing safe accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse, as well as specialist counselling and outreach services.

The investment comes as Metropolitan Police figures reveal that domestic abuse rates have been higher on average over the last year, compared with the twelve months before the pandemic.

While 89,719 such offences were recorded by the Met between March 2019 and February 2020, the figure between January and December 2023 was 96,768 – a rise of almost 8%.

City Hall believes that the increase can be put down partly due to better recording practices from the police and an increase in victims coming forward and reporting crimes.

But despite the increase in reporting, the cost-of-living crisis is thought to also be exacerbating the situation – as survivors are increasingly forced to choose between staying in an abusive situation or face financial hardship

Speaking on a visit to the East European Resource Centre in Hammersmith, the mayor said: “I think domestic abuse is a hidden crisis that we don’t talk about enough.

“When I’m told that last year alone, [there were] almost 100,000 cases of domestic abuse being reported to the police, when I’m told from colleague experts that we have an epidemic of violence against women and girls, I think we should be talking about this all the time. We should be shouting about it from the rooftop.

“We’ve got to be tackling [the] perpetrators – we are in London, with GPS tagging [for] those released from prison, so that their licence conditions aren’t breached.

“We’re tackling it by the police targeting those perpetrators, so last year we had an increase of more than 500 cases of somebody charged with rape and sexual offences.

“We’ve got to be supporting victims and survivors in relation to safe accommodation, but also counselling, therapy, advocacy and support, so they have confidence to carry through with the prosecution, but also rebuild their lives too.”

The borough with the single highest number of domestic abuse offences recorded in 2023 was Croydon, with 4,977 incidents, though the highest per head of population was Barking and Dagenham with 3,747. The single lowest number – and lowest per head of population – was found in Richmond-upon-Thames, with 1,033 offences recorded.

Khan said he had heard “heart-wrenching and heart-breaking” stories from survivors.

“Some of them are still going through traumatic experiences,” he said. “Some have now got help and they’re coming through the other side, and others have got through to the other side and they’re rebuilding their lives.

“So what we do know is that there is light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to being the victim of domestic abuse and domestic violence – with the right support.

“I worry though that the cost of living crisis is exacerbating the pipeline of new victims […] Also, I’m afraid, it’s leading to more difficulties for those who want to support them, because of finding safe accommodation that’s affordable and so forth.

“It’s a perfect storm for victims of domestic violence and domestic abuse.”

The latest wave of investment forms part of the mayor’s Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation programme, which has supported more than 70 projects across London since its launch in December 2021.

According to City Hall, the programme has since that time provided safe accommodation-based support to over 23,500 survivors of domestic abuse. As well as enabling existing projects to continue, the new funding will help pay for 14 new initiatives, the mayor’s team said.

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