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Commissioner calls for more national support for refuges

2nd September 2014

Vera Baird has joined the growing call for more to be done to protect the world leading network of specialist refuges in the UK as funding issues continue to have a national impact.

The Government is being called on to preserve the national network of specialist refuges and look at new ways of funding these vital services.

The Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner recently congratulated Northumberland County Council after the cash-strapped authority agreed to continue funding the Cease 24 Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA) service until 2015, but said the Government was slashing services which police budgets, already savagely cut, could not help with.

Vera Baird said: “Refuges are vital if people are not to be forced to stay in situations with sometimes life-threatening domestic violence.

“We spend time and effort encouraging reporting and rightly so, but this will be pointless if there is nowhere for these people to go if they do need this help.”

The Commissioner said national funding was desperately needed as often those affected had to be moved from their own area to get them away from the perpetrator and allow them time to start over again.

Mrs Baird said: “People who have suffered domestic violence need support and help to get over the oppression which may have filled their lives for years and refuges supply this.

“We’re not just talking about a bed for the night but also vital support for any children involved.”

The Commissioner said the Government had to commit to preserving the national network of specialist refuges and look to a new model of funding and commissioning to support a high-quality sustainable service.

Figures from Women’s Aid showed that between 2010 and 2014 (July) the number of specialist refuge services had fallen from 187 to 155. Additionally 48% of 167 domestic violence services in England said they were running services without funding.

Mrs Baird said: “We know the closures of these essential refuges could ultimately cost lives and everything must be done to protect the vital services they provide.”