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Mayor launches additional funding for DV survivors

PICTURED: Sadiq Khan

THE MAYOR of London, Sadiq Khan, has today (Feb 27) announced he is to invest an additional £15 million to help services that support women and girls who have been the victim of violence in London.

The money from business rates will provide resources for stretched domestic abuse charities, increase support for victims and survivors, and support hard-to-reach communities. Khan said Government funding cuts had left services ‘at breaking point’.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am appalled that more Londoners, especially women and girls, are experiencing these devastating crimes which so often happen behind closed doors.

“The number of people killed by someone they knew in our city is shocking and I am determined to do everything in my power to ensure dangerous offenders are dealt with, and that victims and survivors get access to the support they need quickly to help turn their lives around.

"Support services in the capital do an amazing job, but the funding situation has left them at breaking point. Victims, some of the most vulnerable people in our society, are often having to wait a long time for help. This can’t continue- we are doing what we can and investing a further £15m, but the situation is now so bad that services are having to close their doors and turn people away.

The investment comes as new figures reveal the true scale of domestic violence in the capital. Published today, as the Mayor visited the Drive programme in Croydon - which is part-funded by City Hall - alongside representatives from the sector, the ‘Beneath the Numbers’ report by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime shows that domestic abuse offences in London increased by 63 per cent between 2011 and 2018.

It also found that last year three quarters of victims were female and that victims were more likely to live in more deprived areas. In 2018 there were 29 domestic homicides – up from nine the previous year.

“I am committed to working with the sector to tackle violence against women and girls. We not only need to raise awareness of issues like domestic violence, but we need to target perpetrators and support victims by ensuring services have what they need,” added Khan.

“We can’t do this alone. Domestic abuse in London has increased by two thirds since 2011 and we’ve seen funding from central government fall. We need Ministers to show they are taking this issue seriously and provide proper investment for the police and long-term funding solutions for overworked and overstretched support services.”

Supporting victims and survivors is becoming more difficult – they need help navigating the complex criminal justice system, often live in unsuitable accommodation and many have mental health needs. While there is increased demand on crucial support services, victims can now face long wait times for assistance because of chronic underfunding of support services by the government.

National figures in 2017 showed that, under this government, demand for women’s services rose by 83 per cent, while funding fell by 50 per cent. In London, while 15 per cent of all recorded sexual offences take place in the capital, only six per cent of government funding comes to London, leaving services at crisis point.

This is having an impact on victims. Nearly two-thirds of referrals to support services between the end of 2017 and the summer of 2018 were unsuccessful. Rape Crisis Centres across the capital have been regularly forced to close their waiting lists and, for the first time in the middle of 2018, all four centres closed their lists due to demand.

Khan said he is determined to do what he can to support the sector and the £15m investment comes on top of his Violence Against Women and Girls strategy, which committed to investing £10m each year in a series of programmes that deliver ongoing support for victims and survivors and fund rehabilitation projects for perpetrators of domestic violence.

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