Authorities urged to hand over domestic violence cash now

Police and crime commissioner Adam Simmonds pictured at Police HQ, Wootton Hall. ENGNNL00120141002112052
Police and crime commissioner Adam Simmonds pictured at Police HQ, Wootton Hall. ENGNNL00120141002112052

Health and crime and council bosses have been urged to come together within seven days to ensure funding for under-threat domestic violence services in Northamptonshire can continue this year.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that refuges in the county could close because of a funding shortage.

At a meeting of the Northamptonshire Health and Wellbeing Board at County Hall this morning (Thursday), bosses from authorities around the county were asked to commit to funding the interpersonal violence services for the remainder of 2014/15.

A report to the committee by Northamptonshire County Council chief executive Paul Blantern explained that if the funding was not agreed imminently, about 550 high risk victims in the county will no longer be able to access help, and one or two high risk victims at risk of homicide or serious physical injury will not be able to access services each day.

A £114,000 black-hole in funding, left after primary care trusts disbanded, was covered by Northamptonshire County Council last year but funding for 2014-15 has still not been rubber-stamped by all the authorities involved, despite massive efforts to encourage all the bodies to agree.

No source for that £114,000 for this year has yet been found.

There is also a shortfall of £13,579 in this year’s budget left after changes to the running of the probation service.

Speaking at today’s meeting, Police Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds said: “This is incredibly frustrating. Let’s sort out this year’s funding and let’s do that very, very quickly.

“If we don’t do this within seven days you start to wonder whether people are up to the challenge.”

Borough and district councils, the county council, clinical commissioning groups, NHS England, the probation service and the office of the police and crime commissioner have all been asked to agree to help towards the £1m cost of funding the Sunflower Centre, the Serenity Sexual Assault Referral Centre, plus two bodies that co-ordinate the services called Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference coordination and the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements coordination.

Interpersonal violence services encompass domestic abuse, honour-based violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, stalking, harassment, rape and sexual violence, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, prostitution and sex working.

Also speaking at today’s meeting, vice chancellor of Northampton University Professor Nick Petford said: “(Healthcare funding) is riven with self-interest and riven with groups not really wanting to share.

“If you have got the money in your budget and you have not paid then give them the money.

“Put your money where your mouth is and support the people of Northamptonshire.”

During this financial year, there will be a review of the way in which all interpersonal violence services are funded. The funding authorities were also asked at this morning’s meeting to agree to fund the next three years of services, whatever form that may take.