Government cuts to policing and specialist services for victims of domestic abuse may impact on the extent to which perpetrators of domestic violence are successfully prosecuted. According to a report by The Independent, the number of victims who had support withdrawn rose in 2016 by virtually 40 percent to more than 160,000 people compared to 2015. The rise in the number of victims who are no longer able to access support raises concerns that the effects of government cuts are driving vulnerable victims back into unsafe, and possibly fatal, circumstances whilst allowing their perpetrators to escape prosecution.
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary reported in March 2017 that severe government-imposed budget cuts were putting policing into a “potentially perilous” state leaving victims of domestic without support and at risk or further harm, whilst suspected perpetrators have remained at large . The annual report notes that consequently the budget for policing has declined by 22% over six years which has caused major reductions in staffing.
In February 2017 Theresa May said current legislation lacked clarity and it was “unacceptable” that some areas worked harder to tackle abuse than others. She also announced a consultation into the handling of domestic abuse that would lead potentially to new domestic violence and abuse legislation. It is intended that a new act would aim to address the inconsistency and make the law work better for victims. The Prime Minister also pledged extra government funding for domestic abuse services and promised to transform the approach within which domestic violence is tackled. For many organisations who work with victims of domestic violence, this news is seen as a step in the right direction and essentially victim support depends on this promise becoming a reality.