Victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence let down by fragmented system

20 Nov 2019 - 10:49am

Services are inconsistent, complex and short term, and victims and survivors find it difficult to get the help they need.

Information on the prevalence of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence in Wales is unreliable and there is no clear picture of its extent. There is a gap in data about which victims, survivors and perpetrators use public services and what services are made available.

While some good progress has been made with regional working, awareness raising and the roll out of training, progress on delivering the key aspects of the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act is poor and has not had the desired impact. In particular funding of key services remains challenging with too many different overlapping and inconsistent approaches across Wales.

Preventative work is progressing in some areas and making a real difference for victims and survivors. Swansea’s Domestic Abuse Hub and Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council’s ‘Resilient Families’ programme are good examples of how services are improving. Nonetheless, much work remains to be done if public bodies are to respond consistently and effectively and provide the help that survivors and victims’ need. 

Our report makes a number of recommendations including:

  • needs assessment and mapping of service provision by public bodies are revisited and involvement widened and enhanced;
  • delivery agencies (local authorities, health bodies, the police, fire and rescue authorities and the third sector) are to review their approach to regional working to better integrate services and maximise the positive impact they can make on victims and survivors;
  • local authorities review their commissioning arrangements to remove duplication and overlap; rationalise administration arrangements; streamline and standardise commissioning arrangements; and set appropriate performance measures, targets and benchmarks.

Auditor General, Adrian Crompton said: “I am publishing this report just before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It’s concerning to find that, four years after the introduction of this ground-breaking legislation, victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence are still being let down by an inconsistent and complex system.

Effective collaboration and joint working are essential to ensure these services are efficient and effective, particularly given the fragmented nature of delivery across public bodies.”

Ends

Notes to Editors:

  • This report examines how the new duties and responsibilities of the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act (2015) are being rolled out and delivered across Wales.
  • This report is published just before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on the 25 November 2019.
  • Numerous bodies have responsibilities for helping victims and survivors of domestic abuse and violence. These include local authorities, the police, local health and NHS bodies, housing organisations and third sector organisations
  • We interviewed a number of survivors who provided us with detailed information on their experiences on how public bodies have responded to their needs. We will be sharing quotes from survivors on our social media accounts.
  • We surveyed local authorities, health boards, fire and rescue authorities, the police and police and crime commissioners on their strategic approach to VAWDASV and the effectiveness of current operational arrangements. We also surveyed all major social housing providers in Wales and third sector providers of specialist VAWDASV services.
  • Case studies can be found on pages 21, 22, 28, 29 and 39.
  • The Auditor General is the independent statutory external auditor of the devolved Welsh public sector. He is responsible for the annual audit of the majority of the public money spent in Wales, including the £15 billion of funds that are voted on annually by the National Assembly. Elements of this funding are passed by the Welsh Government to the NHS in Wales (over £7 billion) and to local government (over £4 billion).
  • The audit independence of the Auditor General is of paramount importance. He is appointed by the Queen, and his audit work is not subject to direction or control by the National Assembly or government. 
  • The Wales Audit Office (WAO) is a corporate body consisting of a nine member statutory Board which employs staff and provides other resources to the Auditor General, who is also the Board’s Chief Executive and Accounting Officer. The Board monitors and advises the Auditor General, regarding the exercise of his functions.