Understanding the demand on domestic abuse services across Merseyside – PCC commissions new study

PCC Emily Spurrell speaking with Victim Care Merseyside branding behind her

A new research study focused on better understanding the true demand on domestic abuse services across Merseyside has been announced by the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner today.

Emily Spurrell is set to work with national charity Women’s Aid and Liverpool John Moore University to undertake a review of how domestic abuse services across Merseyside are funded.

The research programme will look to map the current provision for victim-survivors of domestic abuse and will capture the demand on support services and their capacity. This will include reviewing caseloads, waiting lists and how victims are referred for support, from when they are in crisis to longer term support.

The findings will help to inform how the Police and Crime Commissioner works with partners to improve and streamline funding for domestic abuse support in the future to ensure services are sustainable, and that support is available to victim-survivors across the region.

The review was a key action set out in the PCC’s ‘Working in partnership to tackle Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) across Merseyside’ delivery plan supported by more than 50 partners across Merseyside.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “We know that due to years of chronic underfunding by the Conservative government, demand on our domestic abuse services is extremely high, to the point that some organisations have even had to close their waiting lists as they simply have no capacity.

“This isn’t acceptable. We need a long-term funding model which guarantees that all victims of domestic abuse can access the support they need.

“Until there is a commitment on a national level to providing robust, sustainable funding for domestic abuse support, this is always going to be hard to provide locally, but I am committed to doing everything I can to fund our services in the most effective and efficient way.

“Through this research study with Women’s Aid and LJMU, I want to gain a deeper understanding of the landscape on Merseyside, the demands on our services and how funding decisions are made, so we can use our scarce resources to provide support for the people who need it most.”

Sarika Seshadri, Head of Research and Evaluation at Women’s Aid, said: “We are pleased to be working on this review in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University. We know from our work with frontline services that they are facing ever growing pressure in being able to provide life-saving support to survivors of domestic abuse.

"We are pleased that the PCC has recognised the vital importance of drawing on the knowledge of specialist domestic abuse services and a comprehensive evidence base in order to strengthen provision for all survivors.

"We are looking forward to combining our national insight with the expertise of LJMU, as well as data from our extensive databases, to support the future of domestic abuse provision in Merseyside.”

Professor Zara Quigg, Head of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Violence Prevention at LJMU said: “We are committed to continuing our wider work with the PCC and partners to prevent violence, and as part of this review improve support for victims-survivors of domestic abuse across Merseyside.

“Working in partnership with Women’s Aid, we will draw on a range of data sources and critically collaborate with those commissioning and delivering support to review existing provision and develop recommendations for enhancing support for all survivors.”

Women’s Aid and LJMU were chosen to carry out this research study following an open quotation process. The study will include surveys with partners, stakeholder workshops, analysis of data and wider policy and literature.

They will provide their final report to the PCC by the end of December 2024 which will inform her strategy for funding domestic abuse services in the future.