Dame Vera Baird welcomes renewed investment in ISVAs and IDVAs but stresses the need for long-term, sustainable funding for the sector.

The government has today (1 February) announced that a further £40 will be made available to specialist support services for victims of rape and domestic abuse.

Responding to the announcement, the Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, said:

“I’m pleased to see the announcement of this much-needed funding for frontline services, supporting victims of sexual assault, rape and domestic abuse. It can take immense courage and strength for victims to speak up, so it is vital that they are given all the help they need to begin processing their trauma and be supported through the justice system.

I welcome the renewed investment in independent sexual violence and domestic abuse advisors, who provide critical, individualised support to victims and survivors. Our survey of rape survivors found that ISVAs are vital in ensuring victims remain engaged with the criminal justice process. However, with victims facing increasingly long and unacceptable delays before trial, these specialists will need to be recruited quickly and sustained long-term.

While this funding is welcome, there remains a pressing need for long-term, multi-year funding for the victims’ sector. We know that these pressures on frontline services will continue long after lockdown restrictions lift. So, it is vital that the sector knows it has a sustainable and stable footing from which to invest in staff and resourcing longer term. The government is presently scoping a Victims’ Funding Strategy and I look forward to engaging with Ministers on this and a delivery model very soon.

The pandemic has proved extremely challenging for specialist frontline victims’ services, which continue to see unprecedented demand. I hope this funding will reach these services with some speed and minimal bureaucracy, allowing services to focus on helping victims and not servicing paperwork.”