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Petition VALERIE'S LAW Compulsory Training for Agencies Supporting Black DV Victims

Make specialist training mandatory for all police and other government agencies that support black women and girls affected by domestic abuse. Police and agencies should have culturally appropriate training to better understand the cultural needs of black women affected by domestic abuse.

More details

Too many African and Caribbean heritage women have not been afforded the same level of support that is offered to others. This can only be addressed by Cultural Competency training being rolled out across the police and other government agencies. Without specialised training, it is practically impossible to support, or risk assess black women. This often puts black victims at increased risk.

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Government responded

This response was given on 6 July 2021

Current training on domestic abuse should include recognising the specific needs of victims due to their ethnicity or cultural background; Government does not feel it is necessary to mandate it.

Read the response in full

This government is committed to ensuring that all victims and survivors of domestic abuse get the support they need, including those from Black backgrounds. Our landmark Domestic Abuse Act, which received Royal Assent on 29th April this year, is a game-changer. It will help millions affected by these awful crimes by strengthening the response across all agencies - from the police and courts, to local authorities and service providers.
  
We know that domestic abuse affects a wide and disparate group and that a “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate to support all victims, especially those with specific needs and vulnerabilities, including ethnic minority victims.

We recognise the importance of specialist “by and for” domestic abuse services to understand the specific issues which Black victims face and who have the necessary skills and experience to provide appropriate support. That is why, when allocating some of our emergency funding packages to support the most vulnerable in society during the pandemic, we specifically encouraged bids from organisations who support minority groups, including Black victims of domestic abuse.

The Home Office provided £150,000 to the Karma Nirvana helpline in 2020/21, and an additional £85,682 was provided to boost their services during the Covid pandemic. Additionally, the charity Southall Black Sisters was provided with £80,951 in funding during the Covid pandemic. This funding has supported predominantly ethnic minority victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage.

In 2021/22, the Ministry of Justice will provide just under £151m for victim and witness support services. This includes an extra £51m to increase support for rape and domestic abuse victims and will specifically fund over 700 new ISVA and IDVA posts. We have also announced a £2m fund for specialist ‘by and for’ victim support organisations who support ethnic minority, LGBTQ+ or disabled victims.

Additionally, the Domestic Abuse Act put the Domestic Abuse Commissioner on Statutory footing. The role description of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner states that they must adopt a specific focus on the needs of victims and survivors of domestic abuse from minority or marginalised groups with particular needs, such as victims who are BAME, LGBTQ+, disabled, or migrant victims.

To accompany the Domestic Abuse Act we will shortly publish statutory guidance for consultation that will provide further detail on how specific types of abuse can be experienced by different communities and groups, including ethnic minority victims.

The Act also places a new duty on Tier One authorities to provide support within domestic abuse safe accommodation. Under the new duty, Tier One authorities will need to assess the need and commission support for all victims of domestic abuse, including children, within safe accommodation. MHCLG has been clear in draft Statutory Guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/domestic-abuse-bill-2020-overarching-documents) underpinning Part 4 of the Domestic Abuse Act, that local authorities must consider the specific needs of victims with protected characteristics and / or multiple complex needs - such as those from ethnic minority communities - when conducting their needs assessments and strategies. It also makes clear the importance of specialist services that provide vital, tailored support to victims with specific needs.

The draft Statutory Guidance also makes clear that local authorities should consider training by specialist services to increase local understanding of particular victim groups where there is a gap, including Black and other minority communities.

The College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice on domestic abuse sets out that victims may have specific needs or issues relating to their cultural background or immigration status which should be considered when understanding risk and vulnerability of the victim.

The government also recognises that some people living in the UK as the partner of a British citizen or other settled person while permitted to take employment, will be prohibited in accessing public funds. This may mean that some individuals may therefore encounter financial issues if their relationship ends because of domestic abuse. Because of this, the government has launched a £1.5 million pilot to cover the cost of support in a refuge or other safe accommodation for migrant victims who are unable to access public funds. We will use the pilot to assess the level of need for migrant victims of domestic abuse and to inform spending review decisions on longer-term funding.

As referenced above, the police and other organisations receive training and guidance on domestic abuse, which includes recognising that victims may have specific needs based on their ethnicity or cultural background. Therefore the Government does not feel it is necessary to mandate training.

We are continuing our work to ensure that all victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the knowledge that the justice system and other agencies will do everything they can both to protect and support them and their children and to pursue their abuser.

Home Office

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/578416)

At 100,000 signatures...

At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

Other parliamentary business

MPs investigate violence against women and girls

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee are looking at how violence against women and girls is being addressed, and are specifically exploring the investigation and prosecution of rape.

We're messaging you to let you know about this because you signed a petition about training for agencies supporting victims of domestic violence.

Read about the Home Affairs Committee's overarching inquiry into violence against women and girls: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1159/violence-against-women-and-girls/

Find out more about their work into the investigation and prosecution of rape: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1160/investigation-and-prosecution-of-rape/

Last week the Committee held the first evidence session of its inquiry into violence against women, where it heard from experts who are working to inform government at the national and local level, and from domestic abuse charities.

Find out more about this session: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/83/home-affairs-committee/news/155731/committee-takes-evidence-from-domestic-abuse-commissioner-refuge-and-centre-for-womens-justice-on-vawg/

Read a transcript of the session: https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/2320/pdf/
 
Follow the Committee on Twitter for updates on its work: @CommonsHomeAffs

What is the Home Affairs Committee?

 
The Home Affairs Committee is a cross-party group of MPs known as a 'select committee' which scrutinises the policy, administration and spending of the Home Office. The Committee is independent of the Government.
 
Find out more about the Committee:
https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/83/home-affairs-committee/
 
Find out how select committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Original Government response

Domestic abuse is a devastating crime which shatters the lives of victims and their families. This Government is committed to doing all we can to transform the response to domestic abuse.

This Government is committed to ensuring that all victims and survivors of domestic abuse get the support they need, including those from Black backgrounds. Our landmark Domestic Abuse Act, which received Royal Assent on 29 April this year, is a game-changer. It will help millions affected by these awful crimes by strengthening the response across all agencies - from the police and courts, to local authorities and service providers.   

We know that domestic abuse affects a wide and disparate group and that a “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate to support all victims, especially those with specific needs and vulnerabilities, including ethnic minority victims.

We recognise the importance of specialist “by and for” domestic abuse services to understand the specific issues which Black victims face and who have the necessary skills and experience to provide appropriate support. That is why, when allocating some of our emergency funding packages to support the most vulnerable in society during the pandemic, we specifically encouraged bids from organisations who support minority groups, including Black victims of domestic abuse.

The Home Office provided £150,000 to the Karma Nirvana helpline in 2020/21, and an additional £85,682 was provided to boost their services during the Covid pandemic. Additionally, the charity Southall Black Sisters was provided with £80,951 in funding during the Covid pandemic. This funding has supported predominantly ethnic minority victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage.

In 2021/22, the Ministry of Justice will provide just under £151m for victim and witness support services. This includes an extra £51m to increase support for rape and domestic abuse victims and will specifically fund over 700 new Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) and Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) posts. We have also announced a £2m fund for specialist ‘by and for’ victim support organisations who support ethnic minority, LGBTQ+ or disabled victims.

Additionally, the Domestic Abuse Act put the Domestic Abuse Commissioner on Statutory footing. The role description of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner states that they must adopt a specific focus on the needs of victims and survivors of domestic abuse from minority or marginalised groups with particular needs, such as victims who are BAME, LGBTQ+, disabled, or migrant victims.

To accompany the Domestic Abuse Act we will shortly publish statutory guidance for consultation that will provide further detail on how specific types of abuse can be experienced by different communities and groups, including ethnic minority victims.

The Act also places a new duty on Tier One authorities to provide support within domestic abuse safe accommodation. Under the new duty, Tier One authorities will need to assess the need and commission support for all victims of domestic abuse, including children, within safe accommodation. MHCLG has been clear in draft Statutory Guidance underpinning Part 4 of the Domestic Abuse Act, that local authorities must consider the specific needs of victims with protected characteristics and / or multiple complex needs - such as those from ethnic minority communities - when conducting their needs assessments and strategies. It also makes clear the importance of specialist services that provide vital, tailored support to victims with specific needs.

The draft Statutory Guidance also makes clear that local authorities should consider training by specialist services to increase local understanding of particular victim groups where there is a gap, including Black and other minority communities.

The College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice on domestic abuse sets out that victims may have specific needs or issues relating to their cultural background or immigration status which should be considered when understanding risk and vulnerability of the victim.

The Government also recognises that some people living in the UK as the partner of a British citizen or other settled person while permitted to take employment, will be prohibited in accessing public funds. This may mean that some individuals may therefore encounter financial issues if their relationship ends because of domestic abuse. Because of this, the Government has launched a £1.5 million pilot to cover the cost of support in a refuge or other safe accommodation for migrant victims who are unable to access public funds. We will use the pilot to assess the level of need for migrant victims of domestic abuse and to inform spending review decisions on longer-term funding.

We are continuing our work to ensure that all victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the knowledge that the justice system and other agencies will do everything they can both to protect and support them and their children and to pursue their abuser.

Home Office

This response was given on 15 June 2021. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.

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