Charity hits out at council's domestic violence surgeries

CAMPAIGNERS have criticised councillors running their own domestic abuse surgeries over fears they will not help victims.

Tuesday, 26th January 2016, 5:55 am
A protest held in Portsmouth in December against the city council's planned cuts to domestic abuse services

Portsmouth City Council is axing £180,000 from its early-intervention project (EIP) , a cut which comes into force next year.

Leading councillors have said the cut is likely to be entirely mitigated through a new service being worked on and that the surgeries are not intended to be a replacement.

Shonagh Dillon, chief executive of Aurora New Dawn, based in Havant, said: ‘Whilst we applaud the fact that councillors want to raise awareness about domestic abuse, this is not the same as running a service.

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‘There has been a lot of public misconception that the surgeries provide the answer to the cuts to EIP being tabled by the council.

‘The fact that councillors are already relying on EIP to refer survivors into and then cutting the same service they rely on makes absolutely no sense.’

Campaigners oppose the funding cut and say politicians’ drop-in sessions are not appropriate.

They say victims disclosing abuse need good record keeping, multi-agency responses and advocacy to reduce the risk of being seriously harmed or even murdered.

And they fear there may be cases where councillors do not refer on victims.

It comes after The News revealed 670 victims seen by council staff were considered at risk of serious harm or murder.

Fratton ward councillor Julie Swan, of Ukip, who runs a drop-in surgery, said: ‘We have regular training anyway.

‘But we’ve also got people who are fully trained who want to sit in on the surgeries to help. If the people who are complaining are trained, why don’t they help us?

‘Why don’t they step forward and volunteer?’

Cllr Rob New, community safety cabinet member at the council, said the criticism from Ms Dillon was a ‘pretty low’ attack on hard-working councillors.

He said: ‘It’s a constant barrage of negativity from her.’

He added: ‘People are trying to do good things then you’ve got people like her completely ruining the situation.’

Speaking about the wider work to counter domestic abuse, Cllr Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth council, said: ‘There will be no change, no women’s lives are being put at risk.’