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Legal aid and other funding cuts will put domestic abuse victims at risk

Date:5 MAR 2011

Domestic ViolenceA reduction in funding from central to local government, together with cuts to legal aid, police, health and social services will leave domestic violence victims at greater risk of severe harm, a charity has warned.

The national charity Coordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA) has warned the situation could result in an increase in domestic abuse homicides and escalating costs to the public purse.

Diana Barran, chief executive of CAADA said: "Domestic abuse victims are facing a perfect storm. Not only are they losing the specialist domestic abuse services they so desperately need, but cuts to many universal services and the proposed changes to legal aid will leave many victims and children without a safety net. This situation will endanger lives, and the cost to the public purse is also certain to increase."

A reduction in grants made by local authorities is resulting in many Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) services facing large cuts. A survey by the charity based on a sample of IDVA services, which collectively support over 13,000 victims, almost 3000 of which are deemed at high risk of harm, shows services are facing funding cuts of between 23% and 100%.

CAADA is urging local authorities and health commissioners to think creatively about pooling health and criminal justice budgets, to ensure that services for domestic violence victims can continue.

"IDVA services are experts at working in partnership to deliver cost effective services. The current climate, and in particular the government's focus on public health issues, gives us a real opportunity to pool health and criminal justice budgets, to create a better response to victims and their children," Ms Barran added.