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Government domestic abuse proposals must not let rural victims down’, says Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness

6th August 2019

That’s the message from Commissioner McGuinness as part of her response to the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s inquiry into domestic abuse support provisions.

The inquiry is seeking views on the future delivery of support to victims and their children in accommodation-based domestic abuse services, such as refuges. 

The consultation proposes a new, Government–led approach to ensure more consistent, high quality provision across the country.

Responding to the consultation, Commissioner McGuinness, said: “Of course we need to ‘think big’ but when it comes to truly meeting the needs of victims we often need to ‘think small’ too. Large-scale, generic support services can be less flexible and responsive than smaller, specialist services and can marginalise the needs of more remote, harder to reach communities, where victims are most likely to have nowhere to turn.

“Whoever you are, wherever you are – no one should have to suffer this awful crime but for those suffering at the hands of abusers in rural communities support services can seem so far out of reach. And this can play into the hands of the abuser enabling them to exploit the isolation of the victim and making it even harder for them to leave.”

Commissioner McGuinness added: “Only last month research by the National Rural Crime Network revealed that rural victims were half as likely to report their abuse and experienced abuse for 25 per cent longer than victims living in our cities. There is no getting away from the fact that Northumbria has such vast rural areas and these are numbers that cannot and must not be ignored.

“Meeting the needs of rural victims of domestic abuse must therefore be prioritised in the government’s current proposal to introduce a new statutory duty to provide support for local victims alongside other groups that similarly experience difficulties either accessing or gaining benefit from current services.”

The Commissioner’s office funds various projects to support victims of rural domestic abuse including Northumberland Domestic Abuse Service (NDAS), and Cygnus Support.

If you’ve been affected by domestic abuse and need support or information, call Victims First Northumbria on 0800 011 3116.