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Government urged to invest in domestic violence services

LGA warns that half of children in need have experienced domestic violence

Published on 18th February 2018

The government is being urged to adequately fund children’s services to enable them to protect children who witness domestic violence.

Half of children who are assessed as “in need of extra help” by council child protection teams have experienced or witnessed domestic violence, the Local Government Association has warned.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Domestic abuse is a horrendous crime which takes place behind the curtains in our communities, and can be psychological, physical, emotional and sometimes even life-threatening. It’s awful to imagine the pain and hurt that perpetrators inflict on victims and to think of children witnessing or even being victims of abuse.”

The LGA has warned that a child is being referred to council children’s services every 49 seconds on a daily basis and councils started more than 500 child protection investigations every day last year – up from 200 a decade ago. This means councils are increasingly being forced to prioritise spending for children at immediate risk of harm, rather than on earlier support services that can help families to address harmful behaviours, and support children and young people.

The LGA has already raised concerns that children’s services face a £2bn shortfall by 2020 and warns that councils need the resources in order to cope with the challenges of domestic abuse on a local level.

The LGA is calling for the government to adequately fund councils so they can support children and provide early intervention services to children at risk of experiencing domestic violence. The Association also wants to see an increased number of Independent Domestic Violence Advisers in hospitals as only around 10 per cent of hospitals have access to professionals who can identify signs of abuse early on and get victims the support they need.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “With almost two million victims of domestic abuse in the last year alone, we need the government to include early intervention and preventative measures in its comprehensive package of reforms to address domestic abuse as the best way to tackle this issue.

“The Government needs to close the funding gap facing children’s services, which will reach at least £2 billion by 2020. An urgent injection of funding is also needed toprotect the services that families rely on to tackle problems or recover from previous abuse.

“All children deserve the chance of a bright future and we have a moral duty to do more than just pick up the pieces when things go wrong. Failure to invest in these services will have long term consequences for our country’s children and families andcreate crises which are much more expensive to solve in the long run,” he concluded.

 

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