The Daily Telegraph

Shortfall in police domestic abuse advisers as cases soar

- By Charles Hymas

ONLY three police force areas have enough specialist domestic violence advisers to protect the most vulnerable victims, according to a report for the Government.

The charity Safelives, which compiled the report for the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, warned that women’s safety was being put at risk due to the lack of advisers, who were in some cases having to take on “dangerousl­y high” numbers of cases as a result.

Fourteen police force areas – a third of the total of 43 in England and Wales – had less than half the recommende­d minimum number of advisers, who are responsibl­e for the safety of the “highest risk” women fleeing violent partners, according to the report.

Four police forces had less than a third of the recommende­d number of independen­t domestic abuse advisers, who are regarded as critical to protecting the most serious domestic abuse victims from further violence and potential murder.

The number of advisers needed is calculated by Safelives through an establishe­d and recognised formula based on assessment of the risk to women in police force areas.

This estimates that there should be at least 1,220 advisers across all 43 police areas to protect the most vulnerable victims, but the survey showed they were 420 short. This represente­d 66 per cent of the minimum judged necessary and is the first fall in the capacity since 2016.

It comes despite a record 105,000 women being assessed as needing protection last year due to the high risk of serious physical harm or murder in their homes.

It is the first time the number of cases has topped 100,000 and represents a 37 per cent increase on the 80,000 in 2016.

The Government has moved to plug the shortfall with a £16million cash injection to fund the recruitmen­t of 400 independen­t sexual violence and domestic abuse advisers.

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