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Domestic violence aid charity fears grant cut
2:00pm Saturday 26th May 2012 in Oxford
BOSSES at a charity which helps women at severe risk of domestic violence fear for its future because of funding concerns.
Since 2008, the Independent Domestic Violence Advisory Service (Reducing the Risk) has helped 160 women a year at risk of attack in Oxfordshire .
But some of its funding from next April will be in the hands of new police and crime commissioners, to be elected in November.
This has raised uncertainty about whether grants will continue, and concerns whether other bodies will carry on providing funding.
The Ministry of Justice said new police chiefs will prioritise such services, which will also benefit from a change in proceeds from court fines.
The county charity employs four workers who support women and guide them through the often stressful ordeal of police and court action.
Service chairman Romy Briant said its future was uncertain until the new commissioners made decisions about funding.
She said the charity, which is based in the Old Music Hall in Cowley Road, had “set the standard” for dealing with high risk cases, and police and councils see it as an essential service.
Mrs Briant added: “We work closely with people at very high risk of abuse and build trust to ensure they can be confident and safeguarded.”
Detective Inspector Dick Meadows, of Thames Valley Police, said: “They are an intrinsic part of how we deal with domestic abuse.”
Another £30,000 has come from other sources like fundraising – but it is still £20,000 short on its £155,000 running costs for this financial year.
While the Home Office said it would continue to put in £40,000 a year until April 2015, others gave no assurances.
County council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “Decisions about future funding for services such as Reducing the Risk will rest with the commissioner elected in the Thames Valley.”
Thames Valley Probation Service acting chief executive Paul Gillbard said finances are “very difficult”.
He said the probation service would fund domestic violence services “but cannot at this stage guarantee any individual contribution”.
Ministry of Justice spokes-man Sue Colley said the police commissioners will have to keep “these types of services in their area as a priority”.
And she said raising the level of court penalties would further aid domestic violence services.