SafeLives' statement on election manifestos
SafeLives responds to the election manifestos of the main parties
There are some inclusions in the Election manifestos of the main parties which SafeLives warmly welcomes. We are very pleased to see, for example, the Conservatives’ suggestion that Police and Crime Commissioners should as standard be members of local Health and Wellbeing boards. The connections between domestic abuse, other forms of vulnerability and exploitation, and health, are well evidenced, but not acted on often enough. Creating stronger links between PCCs and their health counterparts is important if in the future we are genuinely going to see domestic abuse treated as everybody’s business.
We are also pleased to see that parties now share a commitment to making it compulsory to teach young children about sexual consent and relationships. We will want to see more detail from the parties about how the quality of this teaching is going to be assured, and monitored.
The appointment of a DVA-specific or more general VAWG commissioner might be a helpful step forward, though this will be contingent on the status, powers, resources and access this person is provided with, and how their relationship both with specialist organisations, and the Government and its statutory agencies, is managed.
It is extremely disappointing not to see a commitment from any party to the frontline specialists who keep victims of domestic violence and abuse safe in their own homes. We know that for a small number of victims and survivors, a change of accommodation will be their only choice. However, only around 20% of domestic abuse victims who get support need to access accommodation-based services. The other 80% desperately need high quality support to stay in their own home and community. The imperative to ‘leave’ should rest with the person causing harm, the perpetrator. In that situation, the victim/survivor and any children they have must have access to a highly qualified professional who will help reduce risk to their safety and work with them to get their other needs addressed. These specialists operate in community and health-based settings to hugely beneficial effect, but the main political parties have chosen not to mention them. There is also no mention of strengthening the response to perpetrators – fewer than 1% of whom currently get any kind of intervention.
The manifestos suggest we continue to ask why the victim doesn’t leave, rather than why the perpetrator doesn’t stop. At SafeLives we will continue to urge the parties to think about how those who have been made vulnerable can be supported to be safe in their own home, which is everyone’s right.
Notes to editors
We are a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Since 2005, SafeLives has worked with organisations across the country to transform the response to domestic abuse, with over 60,000 victims at highest risk of murder or serious harm now receiving co-ordinated support annually.
No one should live in fear. It is not acceptable, not inevitable, and together – we can make it stop.
Every year, two million people experience domestic abuse. There are 100,000 people at risk of being murdered or seriously harmed; 130,000 children live in those households. For every person being abused, there is someone else responsible for that abuse: the perpetrator. And all too often, children are in the home and living with the impact.
Domestic abuse affects us all; it thrives on being hidden behind closed doors. We must make it everybody’s business.
For interviews or more information, please contact Penny East, Head of Communications at SafeLives, on 07818 593 562 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org