Additional reporting by Jess Denham
Victims of domestic violence are waiting more than a year for rehousing, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
The waiting time for rehousing of domestic abuse victims more than doubled last year, averaging 13 months, compared with waits of five months for those rehoused in 2011.
“Women and children who experience domestic violence are caught in a terrible dilemma – stay and live with the threats, fear and abuse, or leave and join the queue of homeless families,” said Mary Mason, CEO of Solace Women’s Aid, whose Islington branch works with 1,000 women and children a year.
“There needs to be a London-wide agreement that families fleeing domestic violence are given priority to ensure they are able to move into independence and healthy living as swiftly as possible,” she added.
In 2008, victims waited just two months on average for rehousing, and applicant numbers have remained almost level, around 50 per year, in the last five years.
Despite the increase, Islington’s waiting times remain amongst the lowest in London, with victims rehoused in Camden last year having waited an average of 65 months – almost five and a half years – and residents in Harrow waiting more than seven years on average.
Islington Council last week launched a powerful poster campaign to tackle domestic violence in the borough, but was unable to comment on the delays to rehousing.
Striking posters show a woman unconscious on the floor and a broken beer bottle, with a football match showing on a TV screen above, and the message: “Did your team lose? Domestic violence. There is no excuse.”
Produced by the council, in collaboration with the police and the NHS, the posters will be displayed in pubs, hospitals and GP surgeries.
In the 12 months to January 2013, more than 1,500 incidents of domestic crime were reported in the borough.
According to a report by equality campaign group East London Fawcett Society, the total number is likely to be around 7,000 as many cases are never reported.
Alva Bailey, Islington Council’s head of community safety, told the Islington Gazette: “There is no excuse for domestic violence against women and girls.
“This new campaign has a powerful image to grab people’s attention, and is part of our ongoing work to tackle domestic violence of all kinds.”
If you are affected by domestic violence, contact Solace Women’s Aid free on 0808 802 5565 or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. In an emergency always dial 999.