Transforming the response to domestic abuse

Closes 31 May 2018

Establishing a Domestic Abuse Commissioner in law

We propose to appoint an independent Domestic Abuse Commissioner who would provide public leadership on domestic abuse issues and play a key role in overseeing and monitoring provision of domestic abuse services in England and Wales.

Many of those affected by domestic abuse access services and support that have been commissioned locally. Funding for these services is mainly provided through the local authority, police or health grant and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) who are best placed to determine local service provision in their area.

While this provides flexibility to best meet the needs of those affected by domestic abuse, we are aware that it can mean the quality and quantity of services can vary across the country. 

Domestic abuse also remains largely hidden - only an estimated one-fifth of victims of domestic abuse report it to the police [1], and compared to the previous year, fewer referrals were made to the crown prosecution service from the police in 2016-17.[2]

We know we need to do more to embed government guidance, such as the National Statement of Expectations [3], share best practice and challenge local areas where provision is insufficient.

This could be achieved by introducing a Commissioner who would stand up for victims of domestic abuse and their children, raise awareness of the issue, and monitor and oversee delivery of services including those provided to the majority who may never come into contact with the criminal justice system.

The Commissioner could work with local areas to ensure that services provided, whether working with victims, perpetrators or those at risk, are as effective, evidence-based and safe as they can be.

They would also work with Wales’ National Advisor for Violence Against Women, other forms of gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence. To achieve this, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner could have the powers and resources to:

  • map and monitor provision of domestic abuse services against the National Statement of Expectations, and publish information to showcase and share best practice, as well as to highlight where local provision falls short of what is expected
  • require local public bodies to cooperate and provide information
  • oversee the Domestic Homicide Review Quality Assurance process (see section 4C), feeding lessons learned into their recommendations
  • oversee compliance with the Specialist Domestic Abuse Courts Manual [4]
  • publish findings in reports, which will be laid before Parliament
  • provide recommendations to public bodies, including national and local government to improve the response to domestic abuse, accompanied with a duty on the responsible person/organisation to respond to these recommendations

It is important that we provide a balance between giving the Domestic Abuse Commissioner sufficient powers to improve services nationally, while avoiding duplicating existing inspection regimes and maintaining the independence of local areas to commission services.


[1] Crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2015, Compendium: Intimate personal violence and partner abuse (Table 4.28)

[2] Crown Prosecution Service (2016-17). Violence Against Women and Girls report. 10th edition.

[3] Violence against women and girls: national statement of expectations


59. Do you agree with the proposed model for a Domestic Abuse Commissioner outlined above?

60. Of the proposed powers and resources, which do you consider to be the most important for a Domestic Abuse Commissioner? Please choose up to 3.

61. What would be the practical implications of complying with the proposed Domestic Abuse Commissioner's powers?

This question applies to public bodies only.