Ombudsman issues guidance to help domestic abuse survivors

“If it keeps even a single person safe from abuse it’s worth it” is the message the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is sending out as it calls on councils to use its latest report to examine the services they provide to victims of domestic abuse.

As councils take on more responsibility under the new Domestic Abuse Act, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is urging them to reflect on their own practices and procedures using the lessons contained within today’s report and identify whether they can improve the way they work.

Councils have a key role in responding to domestic abuse, and working with other agencies, such as the police and health services, they provide appropriate support to victims of domestic abuse, for example through housing and homelessness services, children’s safeguarding or to adults at risk of abuse or neglect.

In the report, the Ombudsman is using the experiences of a number of victims whose cases it has investigated to offer guidance and insight to councils, and suggest ways in which those services could have responded better.

Issues highlighted in the report include councils questioning victims’ lived experiences and downplaying the impact of the trauma they have endured, failing to work with other local services to keep victims safe, and leaving people at risk for longer than necessary.

In one case, a victim’s personal information was shared with her abusive former partner, causing huge stress and anxiety. In another, a pregnant mother and her four-month-old baby were assaulted by their abuser when they were not rehoused quickly enough by their local council.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“Navigating the myriad processes that might be involved when victims of domestic abuse first call on their local council for help can be daunting enough, even without the trauma and stress of having gone through such awful experiences.

“The key thing therefore is for councils to provide services for victims of domestic abuse as soon as they ask for help – and those services provided by authorities and partner agencies need to be seamless to avoid compounding the trauma.

“I would urge councils across England to take the report in the constructive manner in which it is intended and use it to scrutinise their systems and procedures to see whether they can make changes for the better. If this helps drive action to keep even a single person safe from abuse, then it must be worth it.”

Article date: 25 November 2021

LGO logogram

Review your privacy settings

Required cookies

These cookies enable the website to function properly. You can only disable these by changing your browser preferences, but this will affect how the website performs.

View required cookies

Analytical cookies

Google Analytics cookies help us improve the performance of the website by understanding how visitors use the site.
We recommend you set these 'ON'.

View analytical cookies

In using Google Analytics, we do not collect or store personal information that could identify you (for example your name or address). We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data. Google has developed a tool to help you opt out of Google Analytics cookies.

Privacy settings