The Domestic Abuse Commissioner has called for increased funding and specialist court support after a report by SafeLives revealed that 89% of domestic abuse victims do not receive support going through the family court and 71% do not receive support in any court at all, including the magistrates and crown courts. The government’s statutory duty requires the provision of domestic abuse support services, such as Independent Domestic Abuse Advisers. The report also criticised the lack of understanding surrounding domestic abuse, poor safeguarding, court professionals’ attitudes and the bias towards perpetrators as 20% of IDVAs were prevented from supporting clients in courts. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased case lengths, with backlogs running into 2022, and some survivors being sent to courts out of the area.
The report’s main recommendations are as follows:
• courts should be trauma-informed, and professionals involved should take cultural change programmes to increase understanding of domestic abuse
• urgent action and increased long-term investment are needed to remedy court backlogs
• the role of IDVAs must be recognised as an integral part of court systems
• better strategic support, co-ordination and understanding of sexual violence is needed
The full SafeLives report can be read here.