Leeds Domestic Violence and Abuse Strategy 2023 to 2028


Welcome to the Leeds Domestic Violence and Abuse Strategy. Domestic violence and abuse is a serious and prevalent issue, both nationally and here in Leeds. It has a drastic, negative, and long-lasting impact upon the safety, health and wider life chances of individuals, children, and families, and creates wider crises such as homelessness and financial exclusion.

The strategy sets out a vision of hope for victims-survivors of domestic abuse in Leeds. It recognises the challenges faced and the plan to improve outcomes. I know from speaking to them, that victims-survivors welcome this approach.

To deliver this strategy, we need a joined-up and coordinated response, involving the council, the police, the voluntary and community sector, other partners, people with lived experience and the wider community. Our vision is for Leeds to lead the way as a beacon city where domestic violence and abuse is not tolerated and where victims-survivors and their children know how and where to get the help they need. The implementation of this strategy will be underpinned by a robust action plan that will secure real change for our residents.

We all have a responsibility to help put an end to domestic violence and abuse and I thank everyone involved in writing this strategy for their continued dedication to preventing all forms of domestic violence and abuse in our city, safeguarding our residents and supporting victims-survivors to recover. It is vital work in which I hope we will all play our part.

– Councillor Debra Coupar, Deputy Leader Leeds City Council and Chair of Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board

Being a victim-survivor of Domestic Abuse is a journey we did not choose. Having good services to work alongside us, makes the confusion and pain of the experience less so, enabling us to recognise what is happening, plan how we wish to deal with it and recover from the trauma it causes.

As victims-survivors we have embraced the opportunity to help improve services in Leeds. We continue to highlight good practice and share learning with the Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board, statutory and non-statutory agencies. We have given feedback on the LDVS services, developed a podcast for frontline workers to help and encourage them in their roles, explaining they are vital to enable us to be safe when leaving and recovering.

As victims-survivors we are proud of our achievements to overcome and move on from domestic abuse. We would like you to know we feel safer, happier, can now plan for our future and want to be involved in helping other victim/survivors.

We hope to continue to work with services to help them to improve and as people with lived experience, we hope to inspire victim/survivors to make the right decisions for them with the support of services in Leeds. As victims-survivors who have used services in Leeds, we now can make changes.

– The Women’s Victim-Survivor Forum


Our promise to you

We will always treat you with respect and compassion.

We will make sure that your views and choices are respected.

We will make sure that you are kept informed about what we’re doing.

Statement of intent

Through this strategy we will continue to improve the immediate and long-term support available to all those living with domestic violence and abuse. We will actively listen to victims-survivors to ensure good practice is shared and lessons are learned. We will challenge and support those who are causing harm. We will build on the work done with children and young people to improve how we keep them safe and supported.

What are we going to do?

Awareness, prevention and early intervention

  • Make sure there are lots of places to talk about and be asked about whether you’re living with abuse, and then get help and support.
  • Have campaigns so the public can better understand domestic violence and abuse.
  • Provide information to people about services including financial support.
  • Make sure that employers understand and can support those affected by domestic violence and abuse.
  • Raise awareness of honour-based abuse and forced marriage and make sure services can recognise and respond well.

Responding to risk and harm

  • Listen to those with lived experience to improve what we do.
  • Look for additional funding and resources, and make sure our current services are striving to be the best to meet needs.
  • Make sure that you get help with housing, using the law, immigration advice, and access to emotional support for you and your children.

People causing harm (perpetrators)

  • Increase support for those who want to change their behaviour.
  • Make good use of control measures like arrests and injunctions to reduce risk.
  • Make sure those people causing most harm are well managed by services.
  • Have a clear vision of what needs to change and make sure staff are trained to make those changes.
  • Increase the number of charges and convictions through a robust criminal justice response.

Children and young people

  • Develop ongoing support for children and young people for as long as they need it.
  • Ensure that siblings can discuss their experiences with each other in a separate environment from parents and carers.
  • Listen to the voices of children and young people to develop support and services.
  • Share information when children move from one school (or education setting) to another.
  • Support those families where children or young people are being abusive to parents/carers.

How will we know it’s making a difference?

We will:

  • Continue to work with and listen to those with lived experience.
  • Gather feedback from service users and use it to improve what we do.
  • Monitor the numbers of arrests, charges and convictions to make sure they’re making people safer.
  • Promote our services so that more people will access support sooner.

Accessing Support

This is a strategy document about how we want to develop and improve our services over the next 5 years. If you need support now, this can be accessed by calling Leeds Domestic Violence Service 24-hour helpline on 0113 246 0401 or visiting LDVS website or the Leeds City Council website which includes links to a range of services including those providing support to specific communities and to those experiencing honour-based abuse and forced marriage.

If you are in immediate danger, please call 999. If it is not an emergency, you can contact West Yorkshire Police using phone number 101 or visit your local police station or use the West Yorkshire Police online reporting service.

You can also contact the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge on 0808 2000 247 or the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 or Childline 0800 1111.

We hope you have found this helpful. if you have any thoughts or suggestions about this strategy or our response to domestic violence and abuse in Leeds, or you want to receive the podcasts made by the victims-survivors please email the Safer Leeds Safeguarding and DV Team SaferLeedsSafeguardingandDVTeam@leeds.gov.uk.

Our Vision

Our vision is that through this Domestic Violence and Abuse Strategy we want to end the harm caused by all forms of domestic violence and abuse to people in Leeds.

Purpose of Strategy

Through this strategy, we want to see a cultural change in how people recognise domestic violence and abuse, how services respond to it and how people affected by abuse have their lives changed as a result. This strategy will provide information to those affected by domestic violence and abuse, those who use services, those who provide services and the wider population. It sets out what we are doing in Leeds to address the issues they face. It highlights the key issues and challenges, the services available, the areas where we want to grow or improve and how we will know it is making a difference.

We know that listening to the voices of those with lived experience will provide a steer and challenge that will improve what we’re doing. We also know how empowering it is for victims-survivors to be actively involved with change. We know that working in partnership is stronger and more effective than working in isolation, so we’ve included information about our governance - who’s involved and how they’ll be held to account.

Through this strategy, Leeds City Council and its partners will seek to make sure that we are meeting the duties in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and going beyond that to provide a holistic, wide-reaching response to all those affected by domestic violence and abuse. All services responding to domestic violence and abuse will work together as a system, so that those using the services will be able to get help and support in different but connected places. We will use this strategy to inform the commissioning of support in safe accommodation for individuals and children who have experienced domestic violence and abuse and to influence the provision of other services.

Our Values

  1. We are committed to seeking out and responding to the lived experience of victims-survivors and their children and enabling their involvement in improving responses to domestic violence and abuse. We will strive to actively engage victims-survivors as we acknowledge involvement in change is positive in their journey to life after abuse.
  2. We recognise that everyone's journey and situation is unique, and we will strive to ensure everyone can reach a place of safety. We know that some people face more barriers and challenges, and we will strive to improve our responses to make our services more accessible, through a gender and culturally informed response.
  3. We will make sure that our services continue to improve how they meet the needs of people in groups who might otherwise have challenges; this includes but is not limited to younger and older people, those with physical or mental health issues, learning disabilities or neurodiversity, LGBT+ individuals, people from culturally diverse communities, faith groups, those for whom English is not their first language, those with insecure immigration status, those living with complex needs or experiences such as sex workers, drug or alcohol users or victims of domestic servitude.
  4. We recognise the value in providing accommodation and support in the community where a victim-survivor can access it, and the added value to their safety and recovery by engaging wider community networks.
  5. We recognise that people causing harm need to be supported to change, using engagement and/or enforcement as appropriate.
  6. We believe that ending domestic violence and abuse is everybody's responsibility and requires a co-ordinated and pragmatic partnership response.
  7. We need to recognise the effect that trauma has on people and respond in a “trauma informed” way.
  8. We will strengthen our partnerships ways of working to make sure that all members of the family are valued and supported through a “Think Family Work Family” approach.
  9. We aim to work with people, not to do things to or for them, focussing on their needs and working alongside them.
  10. We aim to always respond to people with empathy and compassion.

What is domestic violence and abuse?

Domestic violence and abuse occur across all our society, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, wealth or where you live. It is not acceptable; it is never the person’s fault and there is help available.

It can happen once or many times.

The abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological, financial, emotional or spiritual. It can be done through violent, threatening, controlling or coercive behaviour. It can be done via social media and includes cyber or virtual abuse.

It includes abuse by partners or ex-partners, those who are separated or divorced, family members including extended family, child to parent abuse, adult to parent abuse or abuse of children living in those households.

It includes honour-based abuse, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

Domestic violence and abuse disproportionately affect women and girls in terms of prevalence, impact and severity. This includes violence towards both cis and trans women. It also disproportionately impacts those who are marginalised and targeted because of their gender.

It happens in heterosexual and same-sex relationships, and it doesn’t matter if the people are living together or how long they have been in the relationship.

It happens to people of all ages; older people may be subject to abuse from those who are their recognised carers, children and young people experience it through living in homes where it is present.

Adults, young people and children who are experiencing domestic violence and abuse have a right to be supported and given help to live free from abuse.

Just as there is no typical domestic violence and abuse “victim”, there is no typical “perpetrator”. 

We talk about “victims-survivors” in this strategy. This is because they have told us this is the term they prefer. It recognises that there is a continuum of experience. People can be victims and/or survivors and the journey from one to the other is not always in one direction or constant. It recognises that to move from one to another can be swift or can take years and requires the right levels of support.

We talk about “people causing harm” and where these people are in a criminal justice setting, we talk about “perpetrators”. This is because we recognise that some are causing high levels of harm and are a higher risk, so need a robust management approach that includes enforcement measures to control their behaviour. Others need to be engaged in a way that promotes their chances of changing their behaviour.

Our approach in Leeds aims to recognise and respond to all those needs and provide the right support at the right time.

What are we going to do?

In the following chapters, we will set out where we’re focusing our attention. This does not represent all the activity to address domestic violence and abuse; it aims to make clear what the challenges are, and what we intend to do about them through this strategy.

Through consultation with the Women’s Victim Survivor Forum, a series of workshops and conversations with partners, and a review of information available we have agreed on the following four main areas:

  1. Awareness, prevention and early intervention
  2. Responding to risk and harm
  3. People causing harm (perpetrators)
  4. Children and young people

Chapter 1 - Awareness, Prevention and early intervention

“There should be messages and information on social media about how to get help.”

“I’d say to anyone who’s living with abuse, to keep in touch with people who can help you.”

“We need to know that you’re in it for the long haul.”

“Getting help when I didn’t speak English was hard. I started coming to the centre (Shantona), I learned English and eventually I was able to talk about what was happening.”


We want to stop domestic violence and abuse before it starts or escalates. We will raise awareness so it can be recognised sooner, and harm and risk will be reduced. We will make sure that it’s everybody’s business to tackle domestic violence and abuse regardless of where they live, work, or study. We will engage with victim/survivors to include their views in the process.


  • We will create an increase in the understanding of healthy and positive relationships (in young people and adults) and reduce social tolerance and change attitudes towards domestic violence and abuse across the Leeds population.
  • We will continue to develop our understanding and assessment of the way in which domestic violence and abuse presents in Leeds and how we can respond to its root causes.
  • We will continue to increase the confidence of staff to safely enquire about domestic violence and abuse then respond appropriately and sensitively to disclosures.
  • We will promote services to ensure those experiencing domestic violence and abuse can access support at an early stage, preventing the risk of escalation therefore reducing the exposure to the harmful consequences of domestic violence and abuse.

Challenges and issues

We recognise that it is often difficult for people to recognise what they’re experiencing as domestic violence and abuse and to ask for help or support. This can also be true for the person(s) behaving abusively.

We know that intervening early is paramount, identifying risks and triggers to help reduce potential harm. Often this may be the start of a journey for all those involved with specialist support. 

There are increased pressures on the cost of living which may impact as stressors for individuals, as well as the difficulty in maintaining employment whilst living with abuse.

On-going pressures on services may affect people getting the support they need for general health and wellbeing, especially for those with additional vulnerabilities such as age or disability. 

We know that some workers will feel challenged to provide support to those experiencing abuse, and they should be developed and supported in this area.

People in some communities may experience additional barriers; this can include issues around immigration status, language, or cultural barriers for example where services don’t provide information in languages that are not English. There may be barriers where services are delivered in a way that by default suits some communities more than others, or where there is a justified mistrust of services due to systemic discrimination. We need to continue to strive to change to better meet the needs of all communities.

Current offer in Leeds

A range of campaigns led by partner agencies and the Safer Leeds partnership at key times during the year. This includes the Sixteen Days of Action and White Ribbon campaigns and support for Karma Nirvana’s Day of Memory.

Making information available via social media and physical resources in public areas and making sure they are accessible and available to all communities.

Training and developing staff and delivering the Domestic Violence and Abuse Quality Mark to ensure services comply with a set of standards in how to respond to domestic violence and abuse.

Delivery of ‘healthy relationship’ teaching focussing on educating children and young people to identify positive relationships and to know where to go for help as part of the curriculum in education settings including schools, specialist provision, colleges, and universities.

Leeds Domestic Violence Service offers a 24hour telephone advice line as well as advocacy and support and emergency accommodation.

“Routine Enquiry” (asking everyone if they’ve experienced domestic violence and abuse) has been actively promoted over many years in GP practice and other health settings, as well as a range of other services and remains a priority in Leeds. Alongside this, a range of services use “Triggered Enquiry” to explore a situation where they believe domestic violence and abuse may be an issue but has not been disclosed by the person.

Providing victims of domestic violence and abuse with information about their partner’s history of offending in relation to domestic violence and abuse via the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) to enable people to make informed decisions. Anyone with concerns about their current or ex-partner can use their ”Right to Ask” to check whether they have a history of domestic abuse. Professionals can also ask for disclosure to be made to the victim as a “Right to Know” disclosure. 

Making links across service areas, so that those who are providing services for one issue (such as mental health support or drug and alcohol treatment) recognise the likelihood of domestic violence and abuse and the additional challenges of providing support to this group.

The DV&A Voices Project gives victims-survivors direct links to the board to influence change in services in Leeds. This proactive work is empowering and helping victims-survivors move forward in their journey of recovery.

Our shared priorities

We will:

  • Continue to raise awareness and deliver campaigns that provide people with information about what do to or where to go for support to a wide range of audiences. Our campaigns will seek to include messaging for those causing harm to reduce stigma and increase the likelihood of their engagement with available support.
  • Recognise the impact of financial hardship and poverty on those living with domestic violence and abuse and offer signposting to economic aid/money support services to those who may be struggling in Leeds.
  • Continue to create opportunities for people to disclose or be asked about domestic violence and abuse. This will include expanding routine and triggered enquiry across the partnership.
  • Respond well as employers, ensuring that our staff can recognise abuse, and identify safe ways of supporting staff who are victims-survivors to disclose sensitive information and be signposted to appropriate services. This will be reflected in employee policies across the city.

Chapter 2 - Responding to risk and harm

“Other services should know how to help you with domestic abuse, rather than expecting you to find out what’s available for you.”

“He told people I was mentally unwell, then I was too scared to go to the doctor in case anyone saw me and thought I really was unwell.”

“Having a job and a mortgage on our house made it virtually impossible for me to leave, I’d have lost a lot more, I’d have lost everything.”

“Being able to walk my journey with someone has been beneficial.”

“The support for me as a male victim was amazing, I never felt judged.”

“There was one time the police came to my house and there was so much else that was going on, there were things happening to me, by others in the family and I hadn’t told anyone. It was hard to keep it straight in my head – to make sure I didn’t say too much about the other things and at the same time to tell them about what had just happened and why I called the police. they must have thought I was crazy, but really I was just trying to keep safe and tell as much of the truth as I could.”

“This one police officer talked to my kids and asked them about their toys. He told them his name and said that he liked cartoons too. My kids trusted him and I did too.”

“Support needs to be flexible – sometimes you feel ok and like you don’t need it, but then something happens and you’re right back where you started.”


We want Leeds to be a city where anybody who is experiencing domestic violence and abuse, or who feels at risk of experiencing abuse, can access support which will help them be safer and feel safer. This will look different depending on people’s individual experiences. 

For some people it might mean staying in refuge, for others it will mean supporting them through the criminal or civil justice system, for others it will mean knowing that they have somebody on the end of the phone who is available to offer advice and support when they need it.


  • We will continue to build a support response that is holistic and that ensures measures are taken to manage the behaviour of the person causing harm. This includes our offer in relation to Support in Safe Accommodation (as outlined in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021).
  • We will make sure that those who have complex needs such as mental health issues or drug and alcohol problems are also supported and helped to be safe.
  • We will ensure that victims-survivors of domestic abuse are supported to take a stand against those causing harm to them. We want to make sure that from the first contact through to resolution, the victims-survivors voice is considered and that they have faith and trust in the criminal justice system and are not further traumatised by it.
  • We will continue to reach out to communities that face additional barriers and flex our services to better respond to their needs including those with no recourse to public funds as appropriate.

Challenges and Issues

The demand for domestic abuse support services is extremely high, and worryingly the current cost of living crisis is only likely to exacerbate this situation. The additional national funding that has been made available to Local Authorities to support the Domestic Abuse Act is welcome and has expanded the offer we have in Leeds, but this funding is only to support accommodation-based services and we know that there is also a need for more community-based provision. Leeds City Council has been able to maintain funding levels throughout the budget cuts of recent years, but the financial pressures remain significant.

Every week there are over 30 requests for refuge provision in Leeds. Residents are remaining in refuge longer, often for 18 months to two years and this reduces the availability of emergency housing. There is a shortage of affordable housing in both the social and private sectors in Leeds. This means that people are living in risky situations for longer.

The Women’s Victim-Survivor Forum in Leeds has said that improving the response by police and the criminal justice system is one of their highest priorities. 

Recent Domestic Homicide Reviews in Leeds have shown that honour-based abuse was a significant factor and there is learning to be drawn from this. A task and finish group has been established to improve the response by building on the current training that is available and improving ways in which it is dealt with by support services.

For those with victims-survivors with no recourse to public funds, finding accommodation and immigration advice is challenging.

Current offer in Leeds

Leeds Domestic Violence Service (LDVS) provides a range of support including: 24-hour helpline; drop-in support; support groups; Independent Domestic Violence Advocates; 1-1 community-based support and the DVA Voices Project. The services are available for women and men across all communities. There are also children and young people’s workers to support in refuge.

There is a range of emergency accommodation in the city (provided by Leeds Domestic Violence Service and Leeds Women’s Aid), including both refuge and dispersed properties. Each person is allocated a Support Worker who will provide emotional and practical support and will work in partnership with other services such as counselling, mental health support and housing. There are also Children and Family Workers to provide additional support to children and young people.

In addition to the specialist domestic abuse emergency accommodation, there is a range of supported accommodation that people can access. These services have specialist Domestic Abuse Practitioners based within them to make sure that victims-survivors can access the support they need.

Leeds Housing Options (LHO) is the Local Authority team who carry out homeless assessment and often the first port of call for people wanting to access temporary or permanent accommodation. The team is committed to supporting victims-survivors – whether that means leaving their current accommodation or being supported to remain safely in their own homes (see Sanctuary scheme below). A specialist Domestic Abuse team is based at LHO to support people. 

Leeds Housing Options manages the Sanctuary scheme which enables victims-survivors to feel safer in their homes by offering a range of security measures. They are supported in this by the Sanctuary Support Team (managed by LDVS) which is made up of Domestic Abuse Practitioners from a range of community and third sector organisations who can offer ongoing support to people around their experience of domestic violence and abuse.

West Yorkshire Police have specially trained officers (Domestic Violence Co-ordinators) who can provide support and practical assistance) including security measures such as phones and alarms) to those who experience domestic violence and abuse.

A range of legal remedies are available to victims-survivors of abuse including arrests, injunctions, Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, Domestic Violence Protection Orders – this is not an exhaustive list. There are also a range of special measures at court to support the victim through the prosecution and officers are trained to consider evidence led prosecutions to reduce the reliance on evidence provided by the victim.

Daily Risk Assessment Meetings (DRAM) and bi-weekly Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC) where partners from a range of organisations put an immediate risk management plan in place for those people who are at high risk of lethal harm or homicide.

GP based domestic abuse workers to make sure that GPs can quickly refer people to support for a domestic abuse issue if that need becomes apparent during a consultation. 

Early Help Hubs providing support to families across the city have a Domestic Abuse Co-ordinator to support the multi-disciplinary team in providing a joined-up response. 

Operation Encompass is a system to notify schools when police have attended a domestic violence and abuse incident and where the children were present, so that schools can provide them with an immediate welfare and safeguarding response.

As a result of the covid pandemic, many services are now able to offer support remotely, sometimes alongside their face-to-face provision.

Our shared priorities

We will:

  • Support and engage with victims-survivors to better understand how gaps in service and barriers to accessing service impacted on them to inform and develop both the current and future support offer.
  • Look for opportunities to bring in additional funding and resources to increase the amount of support available.
  • Deliver, monitor and improve our offer to provide an effective response to immediate risk.
  • Provide support in safe accommodation that is appropriate to the diverse needs in the city and work towards improving the housing offer in the long term.
  • Make effective use of the criminal justice system and support measures to make sure that individuals, young people and children are made safe.
  • Find ways to increase the emotional support available to enable recovery and to enable the journey from victim to survivor for individuals, young people and children.
  • Review how services respond to honour-based abuse and forced marriage and identify ways of improving the response.

Chapter 3 – People causing harm (perpetrators)

“I’m glad that the police made him leave, I just couldn’t do it.”

(Statements from persons causing harm)

“I had a good practitioner who listened and took the time to understand, even though I was in the wrong.”

“You don’t know you’re being abusive until you take a step back and look at yourself. You don’t think you can change, but you can.”


We want to make sure that domestic violence and abuse is reduced by supporting and challenging those who are causing harm in relationships. We want to make sure that if someone recognises that they must change their behaviour there are support options and resources to help them do that. We also want to ensure that the criminal justice system and wider approaches to managing risk and harm are used effectively to place restrictions on people’s behaviour and reduce the risk they present to others.


  • We will set out a clear vision of where change needs to be made and further services created.
  • We will make sure that the protection of victims-survivors, and children and young people is central to work with those causing harm, and that this group is appropriately supported.
  • We want to ensure that the co-ordination of service response to high and medium risk offenders is resourced appropriately and effective in reducing harm and risk.
  • We want to establish a specialist service for those who are causing harm to change their behaviour and make victims-survivors, and children and young people safer.
  • We will create a culture where staff can engage with those causing harm to enable to them to access support where available.
  • We will work to ensure that the criminal justice response is robust and effective, and that victims-survivors are supported to maintain their engagement through the whole process.
  • We will maximise opportunities at a regional level to increase the resources available to reduce the harm caused by individuals.

Challenges and issues 

The Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board has identified a low rate of convictions for domestic abuse offences and that addressing this will be one of its partnership priorities.

Due to the emotional impact of domestic abuse on all parties, investigations can be challenging and time consuming. The time an investigation takes can leave people unable to move forward. Keeping victims engaged is one of the biggest challenges for services within the criminal justice process.

The increased demand on resources also provides challenges for carrying out timely investigations; the development of new technology allows greater investigative opportunities but also increases the volume of information in an investigation.

Housing is limited in Leeds and the housing offer for this group is also restricted. There is a balance between keeping victims safe in new tenancies and removing the person causing harm to keep them safe.

Most people causing harm are men. However, there is a gap in the knowledge base of what works in familial abuse and where the person causing harm is female. This also includes a lack of understanding of the role of other family members as abusers, instigators or permission givers. 

There is also a gap in how we understand the impact of someone’s mental health presentation, neurodiversity or other learning challenges on their behaviour.

Many services are struggling to meet the high levels of demand, with inexperienced staff who lack the skills and confidence to effectively engage with those causing harm. There is a recognition that working with this group is complex and requires skills and effective supervision to carry it out safely. There is a need to harness the skills of key workforces to improve how they challenge and support those who are causing harm.

Respect and Caring Dads recommend that if you are considering the commission of an intervention to address the use of domestic violence then commission a Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme (DVPP), preferably one that is Respect accredited. If you already have DVPP and you want to increase the focus on children exposed to domestic violence, then Caring Dads does this very effectively. In Leeds, we have a very successful Caring Dads programme, but we don’t have a DVPP.

Current offer in Leeds

CARA (Cautions and Relationship Abuse) programme

“CARA is a proven and recognised model of interventions with perpetrators of domestic abuse who are subject to conditional cautions. A pair of workshops provide participants with strategies and skills to build respectful relationships. This includes focusing on different aspects of violence and control, and on skills for better relationships and parenting.”

Probation – risk management and strengths-based interventions to change behaviour and increase safety.

Caring Dads work with medium and high-risk perpetrators where they have children and often where the children are also exposed to abuse in order to improve their parenting and increase the safety of the family.

Police and courts have a range of measures to manage behaviour including bail conditions, Domestic Violence Protection Orders, electronic monitoring devices and curfews.

There are also civil remedies such as Non-Molestation Orders.

Our shared priorities

We will:

  • Make best use of control measures (including Domestic Violence Protection Notices and Orders, civil and criminal sanctions) to safeguard individuals, young people, and children at immediate risk.
  • Enhance and improve a range of specialist support for those with harmful relationship behaviours, that addresses these behaviours and creates lasting positive change.
  • Undertake a review to identify ways to improve the management of medium and high-risk individuals through our multi-agency arrangements.
  • Refresh the workforce development offer, so staff are better equipped to engage with people causing harm.
  • Find ways to bring in interventions and additional resources to reduce risky and harmful behaviour.
  • Increase the number of charges and convictions through a robust criminal justice response.

Chapter 4 – Children and Young People


Our vision is for Leeds to be the best city for children and young people to grow up in, to thrive from early years into adulthood. We want any child or young person in Leeds experiencing domestic violence and abuse to be appropriately supported. We want to work with families to enable children and young people to be safer and ensure that services work together.


  • We will ensure that children have adequate support for as long as they require it.
  • We will listen to the voices of children and young people to develop appropriate support and services.

Challenges and issues

Children and young people are victims of domestic violence and abuse and this impacts on their current and future welfare. Their experience of domestic violence and abuse is different dependent on age, sociological factors, family, and community support. Statutory children’s services have a responsibility to assess and assist where there is a child in need and in domestic violence and abuse it is critical that this done alongside the victim. In addition it is important to understand and assist those causing harm where safe and appropriate.

The prevalence of domestic violence and abuse is relatively common with significant families being referred to Children’s Social Work Services for support and intervention. Children and young people can suffer loss of key relationships, experience multiple home moves, changes of school, can have poor school attendance/attainment and can suffer physical and emotional harm. They can feel a misplaced sense of responsibility, distress and anger which may not be understood by others

Currently there are not enough services for children and young people. Some services are provided by specialist domestic violence and abuse workers such as support for children living in refuge. They are also provided by schools, and the third sector but this offer is not sufficient to meet demand.

We recognise that we do not hear enough from children and young people about these issues, there needs to be a development of knowledge and understanding of what the issues are for children and young people and truly to understand the impact so that services can be designed accordingly.

Current offer in Leeds

Workforce of social workers who work under the Children Act to work with families. They are focused on listening to children voices, and working in partnership with families to ensure that children are safe from harm.

The Elevate project – a service from Leeds Women’s Aid that supports children and young people who have been impacted by domestic violence and abuse.

Clusters aim to identify those families, children, and young people most in need and to ensure they are offered the right intervention at the right time, by the right people as early as possible in the life of the problem.

Children’s Centres will offer similar support to families but will work with families with children under 5 and pregnant mothers.

Schools and colleges offer pastoral care, providing physical and emotional welfare.to children and young people

Operation Encompass is a police and education early information safeguarding partnership enabling schools to offer immediate support to children experiencing domestic abuse.

Family Group Conference is a voluntary meeting which takes place to help find solutions to family problems.

Caring Dads work with medium and high-risk perpetrators where they have children and often where the children are also exposed to abuse to improve their parenting and increase the safety of the family.

Early Help Hubs providing support to families across the city have a Domestic Abuse Co-ordinator to support the multi-disciplinary team in providing a joined-up response. 

Our shared priorities – we will:

  • Develop ongoing support for children and young people for as long as they need it. This will be a response based on children and young people’s experience of domestic abuse regardless of behaviours.
  • Ensure that siblings can discuss their experiences with each other in a separate environment from parents and carers.
  • Listen to the voices of children and young people to develop support and services.
  • Ensure that information regarding children and young people is shared appropriately within and between schools at a period of transition to ensure that they do not need to repeat their story.
  • Support families where children or young people are being abusive by providing challenges where needed and support to make positive changes for the benefit of all.

Governance and Accountability

Safer Leeds Executive (the statutory Community Safety Partnership in Leeds) have overall responsibility for reducing crime in Leeds. Responsibility for the delivery of this strategy belongs to its sub-group, the Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board (DALPB).

The board will drive a programme of activity to deliver change and improvement. It will monitor progress and address any issues in performance to ensure the strategy is delivered and change is achieved. Strategic leads will be assigned to each delivery priority. Areas of activity will be tracked through high level reporting on progress to the quarterly DALPB meetings. A rolling programme of ‘deep dive’ scrutiny of the implementation and progress of each priority will also form part of the governance by DALPB.

The Strategy is for five years as an indicator of the long-term commitment that is required to address the issues. This will be supported by a dynamic and evolving delivery plan which will evidence our activity and progress in meeting our overall vision.

We know that there will be issues or challenges that emerge and that there are gaps in our knowledge, data, and capacity to address the issues. So, we will also have a 12-month forward plan that will set out the areas for further focus and development each year. The forward plan will also help shape the delivery plan in future years.

We will work to ensure that the voices of victims-survivors and of families affected by domestic violence and abuse, and of those causing harm, informs our work and provision. We achieve this through the delivery of the Voices project that will engage women, men, children and LGBT+ folk from across Leeds and support them to participate in board meetings and the wider activity of the board with the focus being to actively influence and share good practice and learnings. Their views will inform improvements and their involvement will form part of the monitoring of progress by the board.

The table below sets out the performance measures that we will use on a quarterly basis to monitor trends in Leeds. Many have been selected as they are measured nationally, and so we can contextualise our progress.

Key performance measures linked to the Domestic Violence strategy help us to know that we are making a difference in Leeds. We will monitor these Leeds trends:

Awareness, prevention and early intervention

  • Domestic abuse-related crimes and incidents reported to the Police, and the risk identified.
  • Domestic abuse-related contacts to organisations including LDVS and Housing Leeds.

Responding to risk and harm

  • Referrals to a multi-agency case conference, (MARAC).
  • Survey feedback from victims of domestic abuse.

People causing harm

  • Domestic abuse-related crimes that result in an arrest.
  • Domestic abuse-related interventions including DVPNs, DVPOs, and Clare’s Law occurrences.

Children and Young People

  • Domestic abuse-related crimes and incidents reported to the Police where a child is present.
  • Domestic abuse-related referrals to Children’s Social Work.

We will monitor victim and suspect population group information with a focus upon Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion.

We will monitor information from partners including Public Health, the National Probation Service, and the Crown Prosecution Service.

We will be flexible in monitoring the Leeds Domestic Violence strategy and may report additional measures to support a service response.

National Context - appendix

The Domestic Abuse Act came into effect in April 2021. The Act together with other legislative changes over recent years means that there are now more legislative measures in place to protect victims-survivors from harm.  

There is now a statutory definition of domestic abuse, and stalking and coercive and controlling behaviour are criminal offences.  

The act places a duty on local authorities to provide support to victims-survivors of domestic violence and abuse and their children in refuges and safe accommodation.  

It also ensures that a child who sees or hears, or experiences the effects of, domestic violence and abuse and is related to the person being abused or the perpetrator is also to be regarded as a victim of domestic violence and abuse.  

Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs), Forced Marriage Orders (FMOs) and Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (FGMPOs) can now be enforced to protect against offenders and to protect individuals from harm.  

The coercive or controlling behaviour offence came into force in December 2015 but following the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 it now includes abuse that happens post separation.  

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS – also known as Clare’s Law) has been introduced and now placed on a statutory footing under the new Act. The scheme enables an individual to ask the police to check whether a new or existing partner has an abusive past. It also enables an agency to make a 'right to know’ application if they believe that an individual is at risk of domestic abuse from their partner.  

In 2015, domestic abuse was added to the Care Act 2014 as an adult safeguarding category in recognition of those victims who have care and support needs that limit their ability to protect themselves. The criteria are that the adult has care and support needs, whether the local authority is meeting those needs; is suffering or is at risk of suffering abuse or neglect; and is unable to protect themselves against that abuse or neglect as a result of their care and support needs. Care and support needs could include, for example, needs arising from disability, age or frailty, mental ill-health, or substance misuse.  

In 2016 the Home Office revised the Multi-agency Statutory Guidance for the Conduct of Domestic Homicide Reviews. This statutory guidance states that the local Community Safety Partnership (Safer Leeds Executive) has a statutory requirement to conduct an independent review into the death of any of a person aged 16 or over has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by: (a) a person to whom he was related or with whom he was or had been in an intimate personal relationship, or (b) a member of the same household as himself, held with a view to identifying the lessons to be learnt from the death. This strategy and associated action plan include recommendations from any local and national reviews that can improve practice.  

The Government has also published a range of papers and guidance that has domestic abuse as a priority within them including:  

  • Keeping Children Safe in Education: Statutory guidance for schools and colleges.
  • Working together to safeguard children 2018: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children
  • Violence against women and girls Strategy July 2021

Under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 the Government has established the position of a Domestic Abuse Commissioner in law to provide accountability to the public and Ministers on failure within statutory service provision and poor practice in services.  

Local context - appendix

Leeds has strong track record in developing new ways to tackle domestic violence and abuse, and championing those who are affected by it. There is no single service that can provide the response that is needed, so we have robust and committed partnerships that work together to improve what we do. There have been many partnership arrangement to address domestic violence and abuse in Leeds; each has built on the progress made by others and has led us to our current partnership board.   

The Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board (DALPB) was established in 2021 in response to the Domestic Abuse Act. Whilst its statutory function is concerned with Support in Safe Accommodation, the partnership’s aspiration is much broader and more holistic. At the heart of everything we do is the voice and experience of those who have lived through and survived their experiences of domestic violence and abuse. We have made funding available to develop the Voices project and through that we have a Women’s Victim-Survivor Forum who are represented on the board. The Voices project is developing other ways that men who have experienced domestic violence and abuse can contribute their experience, and more broadly we are looking at ways that we can gather the experience of a wider range of people, including children and young people and from the LGBT+ community, using a range of communication channels.  

The DALPB oversees a changing picture of task and finish groups, that bring together partners to review and improve responses in key areas. Examples include the workforce development group that has established a framework and is co-ordinating the learning offer for all agencies in Leeds. There is a Non-Fatal Strangulation group that was formed when the new offence was introduced in June 2022. The group is working to inform the workforce of the risks of this form of assault and to explore how we can raise public awareness of the harm and damage arising from this offence, with a clear message to seek medical attention following an incident.  

The partnership in Leeds has established good working relationships with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and her office. Through this, we will seek to influence and support her campaigns to improve outcomes for those affected by domestic violence and abuse. We will promote and disseminate the research from her office, including Safety before Status and the Patchwork of Provision to inform our own workforce and influence their understanding.  

We are committed to learning lessons through our Domestic Homicide Reviews. We have arrangements in place to monitor actions and to seek assurance that learning is being acted upon within agencies. We have a Domestic Homicide Review learning module that sits alongside our other learning opportunities within the workforce development framework. Our intention is that all agencies are using these learning opportunities to improve their services to those affected by domestic violence and abuse.  

Reducing domestic violence and abuse is not a stand-alone issue. It is impacted by and has an impact on many other social challenges. Therefore, it is a focus within partnerships and strategies that are dealing with other issues. These include Safer Leeds Executive, Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership, Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board and Health and Wellbeing Board and within the following strategies Early Help, Homelessness and Housing, Suicide Prevention, Drugs and Alcohol, Violence Against Women and Girls, Serious Violence, Reducing Reoffending. This strategy will strengthen the overall approach, provide a framework for the DALPB and drive activity in those other strategic areas.  

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