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NHS wants to be part of conversations around Serious Violence Duty

The NHS England lead for domestic abuse and sexual violence has called for more of an “equality of arms” in terms of funding services.

The NHS has said they are keen to engage on the Serious Violence Duty but that they need more of an “equality of arms” when it comes to funding services.

The NPCC/APCC annual summit today held a breakout panel session on the Serious Violence Duty.

The session heard from the NHS England lead for domestic abuse and sexual violence who has said that the NHS “absolutely want to be part of it”.

However, Catherine Hinwood added that there needs to be an equality of arms when it comes to funding – underlining that funding that has gone to Integrated Care Boards has been 3% of what is available through the duty.

“We see two million patients a day in the NHS and we’re the biggest employer in Europe.

“When you look at some of the studies that have been done in relation to domestic abuse, you’ll hear from perpetrators that the person they’re most likely to have spoken to about their harmful behaviours will be their GP.

“It’s really critical when we’re thinking about prevention that we are involving our NHS counterparts.”

The Serious Violence Duty includes a duty on Integrated Care Boards.

“Last year we had a really brilliant restructure [..] to try and be much closer to communities,” Ms Hinwood continued.

“We created Integrated Care Boards, Integrated Care Systems (partnership between NHS and LAs) and Integrated Care Partnerships between us the NHS, Local Authorities, organisations like PCCs and third sector partners.”

The Serious Violence Duty was first announced in July 2019, went live in January 2023 but strategic needs assessments and strategies do not need to be in place until January 2024.

The Duty is placed on a number of specified authorities and not just in areas where there is a dedicated Violence Reduction Unit.

The session further heard from Alison Cope whose son was murdered in 2013 and has since been working with forces and PCCs delivering awareness sessions in schools, colleges and for professionals.

She has called for more regulation around organisations that receive funding.

“A lot of community interest companies will pop up depending on what the funding is.

“I’ve seen many organisations over the last 10 years change what they actually do depending on what the funding pot is.

“Until these kind of organisations are regulated, we will see corrupt people still getting funding.

“What I’m seeing, with respect to PCCs they have an incredibly difficult job, is that it doesn’t always go down to them to allocate funding- they have teams underneath them who have been in position previously.

“When you look at where their money is going it’s to the same people, people that continually make the same mistakes.

“We need independent regulators that look at where all money gone in last 10 years and let’s not make the same mistakes.

“Make it independent so there’s no agenda and no ego.”

Deputy Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, Will Linden, further said that a question needs to be asked around governance and risk to ensure that smaller organisations can access funding.

“As good as big organisations are at delivery they’re very expensive. The cost to serve is very expensive and the money doesn’t actually get to the frontline – a great deal is taken up in overheads.

“I would rather see a lot of this was pushed out to local organisations but for that to happen we need to take on the corporate risk of it.”

West Midlands PCC Simon Foster put across a note of warning around the Duty more generally.

“We’ve had a Victims Code for the last 18 years.

“I’m not convinced that Code is embedded and is business as usual across all criminal justice agencies.

“I’m not convinced the public sector equality duty is embedded across the country.

“That illustrates the challenge of embedding and ensuring the Serious Violence Duty becomes business as usual within the specified authorities.”

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