Colleges and other education organisations are being asked for views on new statutory guidance on domestic abuse by the Home Office.
The consultation is being aimed at all organisations with a statutory responsibility for safeguarding, including local authorities, Jobcentre Plus, police forces as well as all education settings from early years to higher education settings.
New guidance is being drafted following the successful passage through Parliament of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, which received Royal Assent in April. The act introduces, for the first time, a legal definition of domestic abuse which includes emotional abuse, controlling and coercive behaviour and economic abuse as well as physical abuse.
Lockdown measures introduced in response to Covid-19 have been attributed to a sharp rise in domestic abuse. Between March 2019 and March 2020, 1.6 million women and 757,000 men experienced domestic abuse, which is a seven per cent increase on previous figures according to the National Crime Survey. The National Domestic Abuse Helpline saw a 65 per cent increase in calls between April-June 2020 compared to January-March 2020 before lockdown measures were introduced.
The Home Office hope that this new statutory guidance will help education settings firm up their own safeguarding policies and procedures with clear information about what domestic abuse is, how to identify it and how to respond. Education settings will also be asked for views on inter-agency working locally, including on new Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Boards which local authorities are now required to set up.
The consultation can be found on the Home Office website and closes on 14th September.