Merseyside’s new Police Commissioner has marked her first week in office by announcing a huge cash boost of £1.2m to expand services offering specialist support to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence today.
Emily Spurrell, who took office as the region’s Police Commissioner last Thursday (13 May), confirmed £1,238,281 had been secured to expand the region’s vital Independent Domestic Abuse Advocates (IDVAs) and the Independent Sexual Violence Advocate (ISVA) services.
The new funding, which will run until March 2023, will pay for an extra 13 IDVAs to provide essential practical and emotional support and advocacy for victims of domestic abuse, and three extra ISVAs who provide similar support for survivors of sexual violence.
IDVAs and ISVAs also provide much-needed support for survivors through the criminal justice process, as well as providing practical help with issues including housing, employment and financial advice.
Signing her first key decision paper to secure the funding, Emily said, “Ensuring victims of crime get the support they need to recover from the trauma they have suffered was one of my key election promises. It is now one of my main priorities as Police Commissioner, so I am absolutely delighted to announce this much-needed cash boost to support victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
“Our IDVAs and ISVAs provide an essential service providing a lifeline to people who have been subjected to the most devastating and horrific crimes to help them to cope and recover. The caring, dedicated professionals who deliver this specialist support are highly skilled and are on the frontline of care.
“Yet due to years of chronic underfunding by the Conservative government, their caseloads are staggeringly high. ISVAs in Merseyside are currently trying to provide support for up to 75 victims at any one time. This is totally unacceptable.
“This desperately needed injection of short term funding will significantly increase the service we can offer over the next two years, meaning each IDVA and ISVA can dedicate more time and care to each victim and we can reduce the worryingly-long waiting lists.
“While this is very welcome, we need this funding – and more – to be provided year on year. It is not sufficient for the government to provide one-off pots when we hit crisis point. We need a long-term sustainable funding model which guarantees that all victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence can access the support they need.
“The pandemic has brought into even sharper view how critical these services are, with domestic abuse and sexual violence workers rightly recognised as ‘key workers’, and our services demonstrating remarkable resilience to keep victims safe. It is now time for the Government to commit to a strong funding package to support services and improve the response in the long term and this is what I will lobby for as Merseyside’s Police Commissioner.”
Confirming the funding, the Ministry of Justice praised the high quality of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s bid and its ongoing commitment to supporting victims.