Refuge statements on Government’s Violence Against Women and Girls announcement and introduction of ‘Go Orders’

Refuge response to the Government’s Violence Against Women and Girls announcement

25 November 2010

Sandra Horley, OBE, chief executive of Refuge, says:

“Refuge is delighted to hear that the Government is showing such early commitment to addressing violence against women in its first six months of government.  With up to two women a week  being killed by their partners, and a further 30 attempting suicide to escape violence every day, it is vital that the Government takes a firm stand against a major social problem that claims the lives of 12 women every week.

Refuge is particularly pleased to hear that funding for the 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, which Refuge runs in partnership with Women’s Aid, has been announced.  The Helpline is a lifeline to thousands of women every year.  It acts as the gateway to services across the country and it is a huge relief to us that this 999 service has been protected.

We are however concerned about the lack of secure funding for women’s refuges which allow abused women to escape domestic violence.   One in three local authorities still has no specialist domestic violence provision – and services which do exist are patchy at best.  Funding from local authorities will be the lifeblood to keeping women’s refuges afloat and with one third of Refuge’s contracts under review, we are concerned about the future.  If our services start to disappear where will some of the country’s most vulnerable women and children go?  Where will we send the thousands of women who call the Helpline for support?  Without women’s refuges, we will be sentencing women and children to a life of terror and abuse.

We know that local authorities face very difficult decisions in the months ahead and need to balance local priorities, but domestic violence is the biggest social issue impacting on women and children in this country – protecting local services, especially women’s refuges, must be a top priority.  Failure to do so will result in a further loss of life.”

Refuge response to the Government’s ‘Go order’ announcement

25 November 2010

Sandra Horley, OBE, chief executive of Refuge, says:

“At Refuge we very much welcome the Government’s initiative on “Go Orders”.  These orders will enable police to prevent the molestation of the victim and exclude the perpetrator from the shared home for up to 48 hours.  This could provide an invaluable or even life saving breathing space to the woman immediately following a domestic violence incident.

We are however concerned about the lack of specialist support services that intervene once the man has left the home. There is no guarantee that the perpetrator will stay away and without support women and children could still be at risk and the orders may end up being worth little more than the paper they are written on.  Refuge’s experience shows that a domestic violence incident is often soon followed by another incident and it is essential that women are able to access expert support as soon as possible after the perpetrator has been removed.  Sadly, one in three local authorities still has no specialist refuges or community based programmes whatsoever.

So while Refuge believes the Government’s initiative is a positive step, Go Orders are not a fix-all solution to the problem of domestic violence in this country.  We need to ensure that specialist support is available to women and that the police are trained to treat domestic violence as seriously as any other violent crime and arrest and charge where appropriate.”