New multi-agency schemes are under threat despite their success in helping women and children who have been abused
Tens of thousands of women most at risk of being seriously harmed or even killed by violent partners are not getting access to the help that could save them, domestic violence experts claim.
More than 28,000 adult and 40,000 child victims of domestic abuse were supported by a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (Marac) last year – where agencies join together to help high-risk victims. Many have been raped, strangled and beaten. But they are a fraction of the 120,000 adults and 117,000 children at high risk of severe abuse, according to a new report out tomorrow.
More than 200 multi-agency schemes currently operate nationally – fewer than the 300 that experts estimate are needed. The resulting provision lottery forces some women to wait weeks before they get help.
Diana Barran, the chief executive of Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (Caada), which produced the report, said: "In some areas there are local committed individuals, but other areas don't have those individuals and there is very little in the way of commitment."
She said the death of a child as a consequence of domestic abuse was often the catalyst for more resources being given to Marac teams.
The report warns that the new approach, first piloted in 2007, is being hampered because there is no legislation making Maracs statutory. They are vulnerable to being cut and even closed down, it warns. The future of the service is under threat, with funding due to run out in 2011, according to the charity, whose report calls on the Government to give legal protection to Maracs and to commit £120m in funding.
A national roll-out of the multi-agency approach, with support for the independent domestic violence advisers who play a key role, could save the taxpayer £740m a year, the report argues, by reducing the amount of time and money spent on dealing with repeat victims.
Up to 60 per cent of those helped by Marac report no further violence. And for every £1 spent on the multi-agency approach, at least £6 could be saved in direct costs to the police, health, criminal justice system and children's services.
The report comes amid fears that the economic climate could cause a surge in domestic violence. Although cases have declined recently, partially because of greater efforts by the police and the growth of specialist services, they remain prevalent, said Professor Gene Feder from Bristol University. Professor Feder, who advises health ministers on domestic abuse, added, "It's still incredibly common, and we still have a major problem. When it comes to health consequences it ranks up there with major causes of ill health such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We are entering into years of economic pressure on households, which I think is going to manifest itself in increased violence."
Backing calls for more support for victims, Sandra Horley, the chief executive of Refuge, said: "Only one in four high-risk victims receives support from a Marac at present. That is simply not enough. All women and children experiencing domestic violence must have access to this level of support. It not only makes financial sense; it makes moral sense."
Wiltshire's chief constable, Brian Moore, the lead officer on violence and public protection at the Association of Chief Police Officers, warned: "Engagement in the multiagency process is on a voluntary basis and, as a result, there is inconsistency in attendance and they are not operating to their full potential."
The Government has pledged to ensure Maracs cover all of England and Wales. A Home Office spokesman said: "To ensure every area has a Marac in place and that every relevant statutory agency attends them, the Government can see a case for this change, but it is important that we consult fully on the best way of achieving this. It is our intention to launch a public consultation by the summer 2010."
The stakes could not be higher, said Ms Barran. "I have people ringing me who say, 'I just want you to know this woman would be dead if it hadn't been for the Marac'. This is the single most important advance in dealing with domestic violence since the start of the refuge movement and it would be a travesty to lose it."
A. READING COMPREHENSION TEST
1. Aid programmes for victims of domestic violence…
A. are threatened on account of their lack of success.
B. have proved really successful, so there’s no reason for concern.
C. have reached the majority of abused women and children across the UK.
D. do not reach all the people that need them.
2. Caada report states that…
A. the number of people reported for domestic abuse varies a lot according to the area.
B. people are not concerned about domestic abuse anywhere in the country.
C. Marac organization lacks proper legal backing (support).
D. Marac organization is really at risk, even though its funding problem is expected to be solved by 2011.
3. According to Caada report…
A. independent advisers should consider backing up (supporting) the multi-agency approach.
B. the multi-agency approach has now resulted in a sizeable (large) saving of money for the taxpayer.
C. the money spent on violence prevention would be less than the money needed to cope with actual manifestations of violence.
D. police, health, courts and children services all contribute effectively to saving the taxpayer a lot of money.
4. According to the different experts quoted in the article…
A. the present economic situation has brought about (caused) a rise in domestic violence.
B. health problems are likely to trigger (set in motion) domestic violence.
C. more women and children should get support, though it is obviously inefficient from a financial point of view.
D. relying (depending) on voluntary work actually hinders (obstructs) multi-agency action.
5. According to the contents of the article…
A. Marac is encountering obstacles to carry out its programmes.
B. the problem of domestic violence is now worse than ever.
C. organizations such as Marac are well-meaning but utterly (completely) unable to cope with domestic violence.
D. Marac action has proved really effective, though its economic efficiency is in question.
B. VOCABULARY EXERCISE
1. Devoted to the cause.
2. Thing or situation that causes a change.
3. When something new is ……………………, it is tested.
4. Obstructed, delayed, prevented from progressing adequately.
5. An occasion when a new product is made available for people to buy or use.
6. Sudden increase.
7. Gets a high position.
8. Has promised
Multiple choice exercise:
1. D 2. C 3. C 4. D 5.A
7. ranks up
8. has pledged
7. ranks up
8. has pledged