An ITV News London special investigation has revealed local council funding for refuge centres in the capital has been slashed by nearly a third since 2010.
Freedom of Information requests to all 32 London boroughs by ITV News London have uncovered the full extent of funding cuts for centres that support the victims of domestic abuse.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has also told ITV London News that Londoners should be “good Samaritans” and inform the police if they think someone is a victim of domestic abuse.
The ITV News London figures reveal:
Funding across London has been cut by 32% since 2010. The average spending on domestic abuse refuges has been reduced from £321,496 in 2010/11 to £195,053 in 2017/18
The Borough of Haringey has slashed funding by 75%, from £431,000 per year in 2010, to just £109,000 in 2018. Over the same period Southwark and Lambeth have cut funding by 69% and 66% respectively
Funding has increased in just TWO of the 32 boroughs - Hackney (up 23%) and Enfield (up 28%)
The figures come as the number of domestic murders in the capital are increasing - last year the Metropolitan Police categorised 1 in 5 homicides as domestic.
Last year 21% (28) of London’s 134 homicides were domestic related, up from 7% in 2017 (9 out of 136). A 'domestic' murder is defined by the Metropolitan Police as having been committed by 'intimate partners or family members regardless of gender of sexuality.'
In an exclusive interview, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, told ITV News London:
I've met many victims and survivors and it's heart-breaking. Too often, this is a crime that takes place behind closed doors. It's so important for people like me in positions of authority to talk about it. Since I've become Mayor, we've hugely increased the funding we give to groups that assist victims and survivors.
The Mayor also called for Londoners to inform the police if they suspect someone they know is being abused:
Keep an eye out for someone who may be vulnerable, somebody who may be suffering. That means you yourself contacting the police, anonymously. The victim may not have the confidence to do so. You as a good neighbour, a good Samaritan have a responsibility too.
Sue Williams, the Metropolitan Police's lead on Domestic Violence, admitted:
Do we get it right all the time? Probably not. Do I think we could do more? Of course, we could do more.
When asked what would happen if funding for refuge services continues to be cut at this rate, Abigail Ampofo, Regional Director of Operations at crisis support charity Hestia, told ITV News London:
Services will close, and women will die. We should never underestimate what it takes for a woman to say I can't take this anymore; I'm going to pick up my children and leave for the unknown. That's why refuges are absolutely critical. Their lives are worth so much more than this.
A London Councils spokesperson said:
London boroughs are committed to providing specialist support and safe refuge accommodation for victims of domestic abuse. However, boroughs have experienced a 63% reduction in their core funding since 2010, which has put pressure on budgets and resources at a time when demand for services and support has increased, including levels of reported domestic abuse in London. Boroughs remain committed to supporting and safeguarding victims of domestic abuse, which is why government urgently needs to put more funding into the system to enable local authorities and specialist services to carry out this important work.
This report forms part of an ITV News London domestic violence special which can be seen on ITV at 6.00pm on Tuesday, May 30.