Domestic violence: Independent advisers help cut abuse levels

Levels of severe domestic violence can be cut significantly and big savings made in public resources through investment in independent domestic violence advisers (IDVAs), research has found.

The report found that 67% of victims saw abuse cease after receiving the intensive support of an IDVA and 87% felt safer while in 90% of cases, the adviser said there had been a reduction in risk.

Specialist case workers

IDVAs are specialist case workers who provide short to medium-term support to high risk victims of domestic violence with a view to keeping them safe, by helping them gain access to a range of services.

The evaluation, which involved a survey of over 2,500 domestic violence victims across seven IDVA schemes, was part of a five-year grant programme to boost IDVA capacity and provide evidence of effectiveness.

The Hestia Fund, a grant-making trust, funded the IDVA schemes involved in the research, along with 12 others and commissioned the study, but its grant programme has now come to an end.

Government must step in

On the back of the results, it said the government needed to step in to more than double the number of IDVAs across the UK to 1,200 to 1,500 and ensure they are properly commissioned to ensure their sustainability.

One of the report’s authors, Diana Barran, a trustee of the Hestia Fund, said: “For the first time, we can actually show what interventions are needed to ensure the safety of those who are most at risk at the hands of violent partners or ex-partners.

Services ‘fragmented’

“Unfortunately, however, these services remain fragmented and, in line with many other domestic abuse services, are severely underfunded…We must now secure this approach as a consistent and potentially life-saving service for victims and children, enabling them to remain safe and free from abuse.”

The research estimated that the cost of providing IDVA assistance was less than £500 per client which, it argued, would produce savings in the costs of domestic violence to councils, the criminal justice system, the NHS and other services.

It showed the benefits of more intensive support from IDVAs – involving five contacts over the course of a case – with just 44% of those who received more limited support experiencing a cessation of abuse.

The Hestia Fund is funded by two other charitable trusts: the Sigrid Rausing Trust and the Henry Smith Charity.

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