Written evidence submitted by Hourglass (VIC0058)
- The Hourglass mission is simple: end the harm, abuse and exploitation of older people in the UK. Every year, more than a million older people are physically, emotionally, financially or sexually abused in the UK. This is a truly damning indictment of how our society views and values older people. Hourglass is the only UK-wide charity dealing with the issue and has been doing so for almost thirty years. We receive around 12,000 calls and cases per year and operate Europe’s only 24/7 helpline for victims, their families and care practitioners.
- Hourglass welcomes the draft Victim Bill, and many of the proposed legislative changes contained within. We are particularly pleased to see the creation of a statutory definition for IDVAs and IVSAs. This definition will allow for greater consistency in the roles of IDVA and ISVAs and well as increasing victim-survivor and the general public’s knowledge and understanding of the role and use of IDVA’s and ISVA’s.
- Hourglass is also pleased to see a proposed new Duty being placed on local authorities, Police, and Crime Commissioners, and health bodies to collaborate when commissioning support services for victims-survivors of DA, SA, and serious violence. Multi-agency working is vital to ensure increased integration and understanding between different sector organisations, the involvement of non-criminal justice bodies is also encouraging to provide victim-survivors additional support if they do not feel comfortable talking to the police.
- Hourglass is also encouraged by the provisions within the bill for the increased communication towards and by victim-survivors through the criminal justice process, and measures to ensure an easier process for victim-survivors to make complaints about the service they receive.
- However, as a number of other organisations have noted – the bill does not go far enough in providing funding or provisions for community-based specialist services, especially those run “by and for.” The statutory duty should include the commissioning of specialist community-based services for all adult or child victim-survivors, and this should be backed by the requisite long-term and ringfenced funding necessary – in line with the funding provided to accommodation services.
- As Hourglass wrote in the consultation for the Victim Bill “This should include a focus on effective commissioned services for marginalised and invisible groups such as older people, and an understanding and mitigation of the difficulties faced by smaller specialist organisations and by and for organisations – current commissioning processes lead to a hierarchy of organisations as they privilege larger, more well-funded or resourced providers through an emphasis on complex tenders, short timelines, and a focus on quantitative over qualitative outcome measurement and data.”
- “[How could the commissioning landscape be better brought together to encourage and improve partnership working and holistic delivery of victim services] Looking at older victim-survivors of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, or serious violence in particular, it is vital that measurable outcome and the commissioning landscape are flexible to the specialist services. E.g. older victims might see different outcomes from a victim support service than a younger counterpart, or specialist services might have less capacity to report into commissions that premise data. It is essential that anecdotal/ qualitative evidence is as valued as statistical/quantitative and that both are victim focused. …. Rather than a one size all approach. The government should seek to provide ring fenced and long-term sustainable funding for specialist services. Victim-survivors should have the option of choice to seek a tailored service that understands their exact needs rather than suffering from untailored service at a more generic commissioned organisation, for example older victim-survivors should be able to access commission services with an understanding of their unique care and support needs, while male victim-survivors should be able to access gender exclusive support if wanted.”