‘Police cannot pick up domestic abuse service funding bill’

Protesters outside Portsmouth Guildhall before last Tuesday's full council meeting
Protesters outside Portsmouth Guildhall before last Tuesday's full council meeting
  • Questions over how city council can join with others for domestic abuse services
  • Southampton and Hampshire councils already work with police and crime commissioner
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DOMESTIC abuse services in the city must be joined with others in the county if they are to be saved from cuts.

That is the view of Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes who is being asked to provide funding after Portsmouth City Council slashed its own service by £155,000.

I can’t just pick up the bill because the city council didn’t want to pay for it

Simon Hayes

The service won a year-long reprieve at the budget meeting on Tuesday with funding from another council cash pot.

Mr Hayes said: ‘There is some great work being done in the city to support victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.

‘I don’t want to see these services cut and closed down.

‘I will do all that I can to support them and for me that looks like working in partnership with the city to deliver them, as I do already with Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight councils.

He added: ‘But I can’t just pick up the bill because the city council didn’t want to pay for it – we’re going to have to work together to deliver this.

‘If we can work together, we can look at a different way of organising this and provide better services for all those in need of support.’

Mr Hayes already spends around £160,000 on tackling the crime in the city.

In October it was announced Hampshire County Council, Southampton and the commissioner’s office have clubbed together to work with perpetrators hoping to prevent offending.

The News understands the city was asked to join but declined to do so.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the Lib Dem opposition, said: ‘It makes sense to work with other people. It would be a sensible thing to do.’

He said he is hopeful Mr Hayes can help plug the gap, adding: ‘He recognises what a valuable service it is when the council doesn’t.’

After the budget meeting last Tuesday city council leader, cllr Donna Jones said she would ask Mr Hayes to lobby for cash.

Cllr Jones said he now has ‘£3m in his back pocket’ but said she acknowledges he has spent cash on recruiting police after Chancellor George Osborne announced no cuts to police.

And she said the city is already working on setting up a company with other authorities and police that will provide domestic abuse services.

‘If anything the service will only get better,’ she said.

Cllr Jones added Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, is setting up a meeting in parliament to discuss getting cash and that council staff are putting a bid together for cash from Mr Hayes.

Since the budget decision – taken while the council needs to save £11m in total – the government has awarded the authority £93,000 to support refuges.

The cash – won through a collaborative bid – will be split across Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and Havant and was asked for on behalf of Home Group and Southern Domestic Abuse Service.

It will fund security measures, counselling, translation services and child care – but the grant only lasts up until March next year.

Claire Chatwin, chief executive of Southern Domestic Abuse Service, said: ‘This funding will improve our ability to provide a consistent service to all victims regardless of need and locality.’