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“Perpetrators should be removed from the family home so victims can stay safe,” say charities, Police and Crime Commissioners

Drive, alongside 35 signatories that span from Police and Crime Commissioners, leading domestic abuse frontline services and charities, academics, and local government, have come together to write to Minister Robert Jenrick asking the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to support risk-managed accommodation for perpetrators of domestic abuse.

This approach aims to remove the perpetrator from the home so that the victim-survivor(s) can remain safe, with support, in the home. The letter raises concerns that adult and child victims of domestic abuse are being put at risk by a failure to find housing solutions during COVID-19 for perpetrators. This is forcing victims to leave their home through no fault of their own. The signatories of the letter are calling on MHCLG to produce guidance on accommodation for perpetrators to save lives and to provide temporary funding to local authorities to house perpetrators with DVPNs/DVPOs or other occupation orders.

This position is shared by the domestic abuse sector and is aligned with the Home Office, as the Home Secretary Priti Patel stated on April 11th that, “perpetrators should be the ones who have to leave the family home, not the supposed loved ones whom they torment and abuse.” Yet, there has been little progress on this. The MHCLG have an essential role – to ensure there is appropriate risk-managed accommodation available so that police and courts are able to effectively remove and house perpetrators away from victims. There is an urgent need for leadership, guidance and funding from the MHCLG enable this work to happen at the local level. Victims cannot wait.

This also comes after a paper has found that where possible, perpetrators should be removed or diverted from the victim-survivor’s home to stop and/or prevent abuse and serious harm from occurring. The paper welcomes efforts being made to open up additional pathways to safe accommodation for victims and families, but argues that where it would be in the best interests of the victim and better ensure their safety and wellbeing, adequate housing provision is urgently needed for perpetrators. The lack of availability of such accommodation is limiting options available to victims and the police in their endeavour to keep victims safe. Without this provision, opportunities to keep victims-survivors safe are being missed.

For victims and survivors, having the choice to remain safe in their own home is important, as one survivor, Rachel, reflects:

“The offer has to be there for a victim to use refuge. But it should be choice alongside other choices – especially being able to be kept safe in your own home, where you’ve probably got a good set of neighbours who can look out for you. You know the layout of the house; you have a good network around you. My Nan lives on the corner. Neighbours can alert police.”

We urgently need leadership and funding for local authorities from the MHCLG to make this happen.

Read the full paper here.

Signatories to the letter to Robert Jenrick include:

Kyla Kirkpatrick, Director, Drive
Kelly Henderson, DAHA Co-Founder
Jo Todd, CEO Respect
Suzanne Jacob, CEO, SafeLives
David Hutchison OBE, CEO, Social Finance
Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime
Tom Copley, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development
Stephen White, Acting Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner for Durham
Kim McGuinness, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria
Nicki Norman, Acting Chief Executive, Women’s Aid Federation of England
Paul Streets, Chief Executive, Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales
Cllr Clare Penny Evans, Chair, Safe Newcastle and Cabinet Member for Climate Change & Communities, Newcastle City Council
Cllr Michael Mordey, Chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership and Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council
Cllr Rebecca Atkinson, Portfolio Holder for Housing & Regeneration, Sunderland City Council
Gudrun Burnet, CEO, Standing Together Against Domestic Violence
Medina Johnson, Chief Executive, IRISi
Estelle du Boulay, Director, Rights of Women
Ruth Bashall, Chief Executive, Stay Safe East (Supporting disabled survivors)
Anthea Sully, Chief Executive, White Ribbon UK
Dr Margaret M Stark, President, Faculty of Forensic & Legal Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians
Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, Founder and Chief Executive, Surviving Economic Abuse
Harriet Wistrich, Director, Centre for Women’s Justice
Donna Covey CBE, Chief Executive, AVA (Against Violence and Abuse)
Umme Imam, Executive Director, The Angelou Centre
Michelle Meldrum, Executive Director (Operations), Gentoo
Mark Brooks, Chair, The ManKind Initiative
Michelle Blunsom MBE, CEO, East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services
Kuljit Sandhu, Managing Director, RISE Mutual CIC
Jemima Olchawski, Chief Executive, Agenda
Christine Morgan, CEO, EVE
Professor Gene Feder MD FRCGP OBE, Professor of Primary Health Care
Maureen Connolly, CEO, Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid
Fran Lewis MBE FCMI FRSA, Executive Director, Splitz Support Service
Frank Mullane MBE, CEO, Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse (AAFDA)
Sarah Green, Director, End Violence Against Women (EVAW)
The Lead Members of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, Cllr Simon Blackburn (Chair), Cllr Bridget Smith, Cllr Katrina Wood and Cllr Hannah Dalton