Domestic violence service set to shut

Supporters of a vital domestic abuse organisation in Northumberland have warned that its pending closure could put lives at risk.

Cease24, which employs six people and provides the Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA) service for the county, is set to shut down on August 31 due to a lack of funding.

This service received 695 referrals in the last financial year, of which 577 were appropriate and subsequently the project worked with 358 clients.

The children’s outreach service received 42 referrals for children and young people, who received direct one-to-one support, while an additional 177 children and young people accessed group work and educational programmes.

The Women’s Health Advice Centre in Ashington, Grace, Northumberland Rape Crisis, 608030 and Northumberland Refuge have collectively written to local organisations, MPs and other politicians in a bid to save Cease24, which is run by independent charity Victim Support.

Their letter says: “We believe Northumberland will become the only county in England that does not have an IDVA service.

“Without the IDVA service in place, it is more likely that individuals will be killed by their partners.

“This will lead to an increase in ‘domestic homicides’ in Northumberland, increasing the need for domestic homicide reviews which will put a significant cost burden on Northumberland County Council and create a significant resource issue for all statutory and voluntary providers in the county.”

They believe the service should be funded by a combination of funders, including the county council, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Northumbria and the Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Deputy county council leader Dave Ledger, who is also chair of the Safer Northumberland Partnership, said the authority has demonstrated its commitment to reducing the incidents of domestic violence and supporting victims through many initiatives, including the Domestic Violence Champions Network.

He added: “Despite having to save £32m this year, we have made provision in our budget to maintain our funding commitment, but in the absence of future funding from other partners to meet the cost of service delivery for 2014/15, it is with great regret that Cease24 faces closure on August 31.”