The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 is a wide-ranging piece of legislation that aims to raise awareness and understanding about the devastating impact of domestic abuse on victims and their families, improve the effectiveness of the justice system in providing protection for victims of domestic abuse and bringing perpetrators to justice, and strengthen the support for victims of abuse by statutory agencies.
Part 4 of the Act places a new statutory duty on tier 1 local authorities – including Devon County Council – to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children when they are in certain types of safe accommodation. These include refuges and specialist safe accommodation of various kinds. The duty is to provide support, not the accommodation.
As part of the duty, local authorities have to:
- appoint a multi-agency Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board and consult the Board as it performs certain specified functions
- assess the need for accommodation-based domestic abuse support in their area for all victims and their children who reside in relevant safe accommodation, including those who come from outside of their area
- prepare and publish a strategy for the provision of such support to cover their area having regard to the needs assessment
Devon County Council created the Devon Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board in April 2021. Since then, the Board has met every month to support the Council in carrying out its needs assessment and developing the strategy required by the Act.
The Council is now developing its plan for delivering the strategy.