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Domestic Abuse Commissioner pledges to end the ‘postcode lottery’ of domestic abuse services

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales has vowed to end the "shocking" 'postcode lottery' of domestic abuse services in England and Wales.

As a first step Nicole Jacobs is launching a comprehensive survey which is aimed at all domestic abuse survivors who have used or thought about using domestic abuse services in the last three years.

Every year around 2.3m people experience domestic abuse. On average two women on average are killed every week in by a current or former partner.

Ms Jacobs said:

"We know from reviews following domestic abuse related homicides that key failings are the lack of understanding about domestic abuse in services and wider society which leads to victims not getting or being signposted to the support they need. We also know that the specialist services for domestic abuse are often under strain and are underfunded. All victims across England and Wales deserve equal access to the services that they need to keep them safe – and to help bring perpetrators to justice."

Recent research commissioned by our office from the LGBT+ anti-abuse charity Galop found there were only 3.5 full time specialist frontline domestic abuse support workers for LGBT+ victims in England and Wales, further highlighting regional imbalances in service provision. The report also found that there were no funded LGBT+ 'by and for' domestic abuse services across the southwest, northeast of England and Wales. 'By and for' services are those provided by and for the community they serve.

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner's national mapping work has so far found only two organisations that are 'by and for' disabled victims, and another two organisations that are 'by and for' Deaf victims. This means there could be swathes of the country where victims are not receiving the support they need. The national mapping work will also seek to identify the availability of organisations that provide 'by and for' support to Black and minoritised victims and will flag areas of the country where this is not available.

A 2016 report from Imkaan reported that in the space of a year, 50 per cent of Black and minoritised women's specialist refuges were forced to close or were taken over by a larger provider due to lack of funding over the last decade, while others continue to operate without any local government support.

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner's office is keen to hear from victims and survivors of all backgrounds, including women, men, those from black and minoritised communities, Deaf and disabled persons, those aged 16-25 and over 55, migrant victims, LGBT+ victims.

The survey will be available online until 31 January, 2022.

For the survey, click here.