6 March 2024

In his Spring Budget, the Chancellor announced a £75 million investment to expand the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) model across England and Wales, supporting a prevention first approach to serious violence. 

Violence Reduction Units aim to enable local public services such as health boards, schools and police leaders to coordinate their joint strategy to tackle serious violence among young people, preventing violent crime and reducing burdens on healthcare, schools and criminal justice.

The Chancellor committed to improving the experiences of the courts for victims and survivors of domestic abuse through the Private Law Pathfinder Pilot. This aims to identify needs earlier and provide specialist support to victims and survivors of domestic abuse. He also pledged £12 million to expand the scope of Legal Aid to encompass early legal advice in private family law proceedings for parties considering an application to the family court for child arrangements.

Patrick Ryan, Chief Executive at Hestia commented: 

“We welcome a preventative approach to addressing violent crimes including domestic abuse. On average, 2 women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. It is crucial that we address this early before more lives are needlessly lost. 

“However, a focus on prevention must be complemented by high quality crisis support. In recent weeks, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner has drawn attention to the financial crises affecting local authorities* across the country – leading to cutbacks in vital domestic abuse support. 

“At Hestia, we have seen this trend impacting not only on domestic abuse services, but other adult support services as well. Local authorities are forced to cut services back to the bare essentials due to lack of funds and are often driven by cost savings over quality considerations. 

“As a charity, we fundraise to try and cover some of the gaps – for instance, providing specialist support for the children who have fled domestic abuse with their mothers and are now living in our refuges – but with only the basics covered by statutory funding, we risk people not being able to access the support they need to recover from trauma, storing up more problems for the future. 

“Alongside this, whilst we welcome the government’s recognition that more investment is needed to expand the scope of legal aid and improve the experiences of the courts for victims and survivors of domestic abuse, we feel these investments in legal aid fall short of addressing the need for more legal aid provision for the survivors of human trafficking across England and Wales who struggle to acquire any legal support when they most need it.”  

* Lifesaving domestic abuse services at risk from council financial crisis, warns Commissioner (27 February 2024)