Abuse victims failed by system there to help, report finds

Experts warn women are being left to face devastating consequences because they are unable to get the support they need.


Survivors of domestic abuse and sexual abuse are being left to endure ‘traumatic and extremely difficult lives’ because they have been failed by the system which is meant to help them, a report has found.

The report, conducted by the National Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence and Multiple Disadvantage, established in 2017, warn that women are being left to face ‘devastating consequences’ because they are unable to get he support they need.

The conclusions of the report gathered evidence on the links between domestic and sexual abuse and “multiple disadvantages” such as substance misuse, mental health issues or homelessness.

Opportunities to provide support are frequently missed amid a lack of “professional curiosity”, according to the report.

The report also comes as a watchdog revealed rising numbers of domestic abuse suspects are being released without restrictions after a ‘steep fall’ in the use of police bail – said to be linked to government reforms to the pre-charge bail regime, leaving victims at risk of ‘further harm’.

The number of people released on all types of bail for domestic abuse crimes has dropped “considerably”, by nearly two-thirds (65%), according to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The assessment warned the reduction could be having a “detrimental effect” on victims of domestic abuse.

In more cases, bail conditions are not being used to safeguard victims, with police currently releasing suspects “under investigation”, report added.

The commission is also calling for inquiry about domestic and sexual abuse to be standard practice across all publicly funded services.

The commission’s chairwoman, Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top, said: “It is a damning indictment of the system in this country that the legacy of sexual violence and domestic abuse is mental ill-health, substance use, homelessness or a criminal record.

“We need action and leadership on this issue so that future generations of survivors get the support they deserve.

“That is why we are calling on the prime minister to live up to her promise to fight against burning injustices and take immediate action to improve the national response to women experiencing violence and multiple disadvantage.”

A government spokesman added: “Through the landmark draft Domestic Abuse Bill the government is transforming the response to this devastating crime and going further to support victims and make sure agencies respond effectively.

“Last month we set out a further 100 non-legislative measures to tackle domestic abuse that crossed healthcare, the criminal justice system, the benefits system, local authorities and more.

“We will soon also be updating our Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, which will set out further ways we can support victims.”

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