Ministers urged to improve their approach to domestic violence

A major new report has criticised the Government for failing to implement a long-term strategy for tackling domestic violence.

The study, carried out by Ofsted, confirmed that around one in ten of all offences recorded in England are classed as domestic violence and officials have said that ministers need to pay particular notice to the impact that abuse has on children.

The regulator praised the efforts of agencies on the front line but warned that initiatives to prevent abuse, to begin with are lacking and argued that there also needs to be greater emphasis on dealing with the aftermath.

Ofsted was assisted in its analysis by officials from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, and HM Inspectorate of Probation.

Eleanor Schooling, Ofsted’s national director for social care, said that a more rounded approach to the problem was needed.

“There is a lot of good work being done to protect victims of domestic violence – emergency services are particularly effective.” she said. “But we’re not so good when it comes to helping victims deal with the aftermath and get on with their lives.

“The justice system must play a role, but there is work to do to stop it happening in the first place. That’s why schools have an essential role in educating children about domestic abuse. Teaching children about healthy relationships is already part of the curriculum, but it is often not prioritised by schools.

“It is a sad truth that the sheer scale of domestic abuse means that it can be all too easy for police, health professionals and social workers to focus on short-term responses to incidents. But the best teams are able to see the bigger picture.”

Earlier this month, Education Secretary Justine Greening was asked to provide an update on the introduction of relationship education in the nation’s schools.

The cabinet minister had previously announced that age-appropriate education would be brought in, but one Labour MP has suggested that too little progress has been made on the issue.

Sarah Champion, until recently a member of the shadow cabinet, said: “The Government are dragging their heels on a crucial matter of child protection. Legislation is just words on paper unless it is resourced and acted on.”

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