criminal justice
health & social care
housing & housing services
local government
voluntary sector

Tackling Domestic Abuse and Violence

criminal justice

health & social care

housing & housing services

local government

voluntary sector

08:45 - 16:30

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Royal College of Physicians, Central London

This Forum will provide delegates with an opportunity to discuss the latest policy developments around addressing and tackling domestic abuse. Attendees will hear from key policymakers including Nicole Jacobs, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, NHS England, SafeLives and Women’s Aid on delivering improvements to services for victims and survivors. Also, best practice case studies, a workshop from Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) and interactive panel sessions will provide a victim’s perspective of how to tackle domestic abuse, innovative methods around developing an effectively local domestic abuse strategy, training staff to recognise signs of abuse and taking a multi-agency approach to tackling the issue.


This Forum is specifically designed to be a multi-sector event including health, voluntary, housing, criminal justice and education sectors, focusing on the importance of cross-sector collaboration in effectively tackling domestic abuse. Typical job titles attending this event include:

  • Operation Managers
  • Community Health and Wellbeing Officers
  • Housing Managers
  • Domestic Abuse Leads
  • Head of Programmes and Practices
  • Justice Leads
  • Support Workers
  • Youth Engagement Officers
  • Vulnerable People Leads
  • Detective Superintendents
  • Detective Chief Inspectors
  • Heads of Safeguarding
  • Regional Managers
  • Policy Advisors
  • VAWG Strategic Leads

This Forum is also open to the private sector in order to encourage debate and networking.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner
  • Nicki Norman, Acting Co-Chief Executive , Women’s Aid
  • Kenny Gibson, National Head of Safeguarding, NHS England
  • Jo Silver, Director of Quality and Innovation, SafeLives
  • Rebecca Vagi, Manager, Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance
  • Jennifer Holly, Project Training Manager, Against Violence and Abuse (AVA)
View the agenda and additional speakers


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair’s Welcome Address

Professor Sylvia Walby OBE, Director, Violence and Society Centre, City, University of London (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Outlining the Government’s Progress on Tackling Domestic Abuse

  • Outlining the role of the Commissioner including leading on improving the response to domestic abuse by championing victims, providing best practice recommendations on actions to protect victims better and bring offenders to justice
  • Highlighting key changes in the Domestic Abuse Bill after its first reading in Parliament, including introducing Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further safeguard victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders
  • Examining the government’s progress in offering automatic eligibility for special measures to assist more victims to give evidence in criminal courts
  • Introducing and analysing the first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse, including the impact this could have on convictions rates due to the inclusion of economic abuse and coercive control
  • Highlighting key areas of focus for the commissioner looking ahead, including reviewing the statutory response to asylum seekers experiencing domestic abuse by ensuring sufficient access to refuges and ensuring victims receive specialist support

Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner Designate (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Analysing the Health Sector’s 5 Year Strategy for Improving Care for Victims of Abuse and Violence

  • Exploring the ‘Strategic Direction for Sexual Assault and Abuse Services: Lifelong care for victims and survivors: 2018-23’ strategy which demonstrates how the NHS will strengthen preventative measures, involve victims in improving services and promote safeguarding and the safety of victims and survivors
  • Examining how NICE guidance on harmful sexual behaviour will be implemented across NHS safeguarding and intervention teams
  • Demonstrating how the NHS successfully embed survivors and survivors’ advocates into their delivery methods to improve sexual assault and abuse services
  • Outlining how the health service will promote safeguarding and the safety of victims by establishing a national victims’ and survivors’ voices group, managed by NHS England

Kenny Gibson, National Head of Safeguarding, NHS England (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Understanding Key Priorities For Tackling Domestic Abuse from A Domestic Abuse Survivor

Lauren Henson will be discussing her lived experience of domestic abuse and overcoming the challenges attached to abuse.

She will also be outlining what current and past victims of domestic abuse would like to see change in the current support system for individuals like herself. While discussing what needs to change, she will also outline what works today and what the future of tackling domestic abuse should look like.

Lauren Henson, Personal Assistant to the Community Health Directors And Domestic Abuse Ambassador, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Exploring the Annual Audit on Support Services Available to Domestic Abuse Survivors

An overview of the provision of domestic abuse services in England and the women and children that they support, using findings from the charity’s ‘The Domestic Abuse Report 2020: The Annual Audit’. The publication presents data from three of Women’s Aid’s national data sources including the Women’s Aid annual survey.

  • Analysing key findings about the women and children using domestic abuse services, including who they are, their experiences of abuse and the support that they’ve been able to access.
  • Outlining the range and availability of support services available, including specialised services for marginalised women.
  • Raising awareness of   the key challenges facing service providers and highlighting case studies of services of service providers facing particular issues.

Nicki Norman, Acting Co-Chief Executive, Women’s Aid (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Domestic Abuse - Seeing the Whole Picture for the Whole Family

  • Learning from SafeLives’ innovative One Front Door pilot
  • Improving local multi-agency responses to domestic abuse
  • The importance of being led by the evidence and testing what works
  • Listening to the voices of the whole family, and embedding the authentic voices of survivors into everything we do

Jo Silver, Director of Quality Innovation, SafeLives (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Workshop: Providing Key Guidance on How Employers Can Take a Trauma Informed Approach to Support Victims of Domestic Abuse

  • Understanding what a trauma-informed environment is and why adopting a trauma-informed approach is appropriate in health and social care services
  • Demonstrating what being trauma-informed should look like for employers and services
  • Highlighting how trauma affects people and how this affects staff
  • Analysing how to practically implement a trauma-informed approach
  • Exploring practical and adaptable approaches that will allow an organisation to improve policy and practice

Jennifer Holly, Project Training Manager, Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Taking a Multi-Agency Approach to Tackle Domestic Abuse Against Young Parents

  • Exploring the ‘WILD Young Parents Project’ commissioned by Cornwall Council, which works with young parents often subject to domestic abuse by working closely with midwives, health visitors and social services to identify young parents that need support
  • Outlining the impact of the service, including successfully helping many young parents to leave abusive relationships and focus on their own needs, leading to 90% of parents improving their confidence in parenting and providing 1 in 5 with employment
  • Demonstrating how the collaborative scheme is being sustained through proving clients with caseworker support, providing them with a voice when working with agencies, helping them understand the process and recommending advice to other public service providers
  • Analysing the lessons learnt from the project, including tapping into other funds in innovative ways, such as the ‘Winter Wellbeing’ scheme, which redistributes funds where older people have not accepted their winter fuel allowance

Winner of the 2018 GSK IMPACT Awards in partnership with The King’s Fund

Jo Davies, Manager, WILD Young Parents Project (Commissioned by Cornwall Council) (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Understanding and Safeguarding Victims from Diverse Communities

  • Learning key lessons and sharing best practice around dealing with violence against victims from diverse communities with reference to local Domestic Homicide Reviews
  • Advising around what to consider in a case of violence against victims from diverse communities and demonstrating how this can be applied to wider victims of domestic abuse
  • Exploring how to use community liaison officers effectively when working with diverse communities and fostering good relations

Kulbir Pasricha, Community Engagement and Hate Crime Manager- Protecting Vulnerable People Command, Kent Police (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Successfully Providing Housing Support to Victims of Domestic Abuse and Violence

  • Exploring the ‘Derbyshire WISH’ programme, a supported housing project which provides emergency, short term refuge for women & children experiencing domestic abuse
  • Demonstrating how NCHA have become embedded within the Derbyshire Domestic Abuse Consortium to help solve the issue of domestic abuse by dealing with all referrals for our refuge and community-based services through their support line
  • Outlining further support offered by NCHA including producing safety packages to guide women with a history of domestic abuse, support through accommodation in a shared refuge for women and children and maintenance support in creating a pleasant and safe environment
  • Exploring key ways in which other organisations can work in partnership with local authorities and charities to offer one-to-one counselling and other support

Holly Dagnall, Director of Homes and Wellbeing, Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA) (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Panel & Audience Discussion: Setting the Housing Standard for Tackling Domestic Abuse: A Focus on Lobbying, Accreditation and Collaboration

Gain insights from leading experts as they debate how housing associations and councils can best work to drastically reduce levels of domestic abuse by acting as an educator, advisor and collaborator with local groups and influencing government policy.

Delegates will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the front-line challenges and solutions to tackling domestic abuse with the panel and audience.

Rebecca Vagi, Manager, Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) (CONFIRMED)

Holly Dagnall, Director of Homes and Wellbeing, Nottingham Community Housing Association (CONFIRMED)

Louisa Steele, Housing First and Homelessness Coordinator, Standing Together (CONFIRMED)

David Greening, Head of Housing, Cambridge City Council (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Questions and Answers Session


Chair’s Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change

According to data obtained by the BBC from 43 police forces from across the UK, 173 people were killed in domestic violence-related deaths in 2018 resulting in domestic abuse killings reaching five-year high in 2019. Furthermore, in 2019 Age UK reported that over 200,000 people aged 60 to 74 suffered domestic abuse in England and Wales annually.

The Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill was introduced to Parliament in July 2019. Key measures in the bill include introducing Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to protect victims and restrict the actions of offenders. It also proposes banning the cross-examination of victims by the perpetrator in the family courts. The Bill also introduces the first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse, called for the creation of a Domestic abuse commissioner and automatic eligibility for special measures for victims in the criminal court. As a result of the Bill, the UK now has its first Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicola Jacobs, who will be expected to champion victims and survivors, provide best practice recommendations on actions to protect victims better and bring offenders to justice.

In November 2018, the government announced £22 million of funding for projects across England to help provide tailored support to over 25,000 domestic abuse survivors and their families. Furthermore, in May 2019, the Government also introduced new legal duties on local authorities to deliver support to survivors of domestic abuse in accommodation-based services. The new requirement will aid in ending the postcode lottery of support for domestic abuse victims across the UK.

Furthermore, The Queen’s Speech delivered in October 2019 reinforces measures set out in the Domestic Abuse Bill by supporting a statutory presumption that victims of domestic abuse will be given special support in criminal courts, such as the ability to give evidence by video link.

Women’s Aid’s 2019 annual report found that domestic abuse costs society an astounding £66 billion annually. With this and the above in mind, it is paramount that all stakeholders involved in supporting victims and survivors work in collaboration to tackle this issue. If action is not taken, the UK is at risk of experiencing a 6year high in the incidence of domestic abuse and violence homicide.

Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner

Nicola Jacobs was appointed Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales in September 2019.  Nicole began her career at the Alabama State Coalition against Domestic Violence. In 1999, she joined ADVANCE, one of the UKs first advocacy services. In 2000, she joined Standing Together, expanding its reach into health settings. She worked at the Institute of Politics, Harvard University where she helped develop and deliver the nationally accredited IDVA training programme. She was a Senior Operations Manager at Refuge before becoming CEO of Standing Together in 2014.  She has a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in Public Administration.

Kenny Gibson, National Head of Safeguarding, NHS England

Kenny Gibson is the National Head of Safeguarding for the NHS, overseeing several portfolios including Exploitation, Contextual Safeguarding; Trauma Informed Care; Prevent in the NHS and Child Protection Information System.

Having begun his NHS career as a laundry assistant in 1980 at a mental health unit, Kenny was encouraged to become a nursing assistant and then trained as a nurse and then a midwife.

Kenny has held various operational, management and strategic posts in both community and public health but always with nursing at the heart of these roles.

Prior to becoming the Head of Safeguarding for NHS England, Kenny was the Head of Public Health Commissioning for London.

Kenny is passionate about connecting with and listening to patients, carers and health practitioners in order to improve services and experiences within the NHS, as well as to empower people about their own well-being.

You can follow Kenny on Twitter at: @KennyGibsonNHS or @NHSSafeguarding

Nicki Norman, Acting Co-Chief Executive , Women’s Aid

Nicki Norman has over 25 years’ direct experience in providing, managing and developing local domestic violence services in a range of settings. Nicki has worked for Women’s Aid Federation of England since 2007, assisting with all aspects of the national charity’s work to end violence against women and children. Nicki is currently acting Co-Chief Executive and oversees the delivery and development of Women’s Aid’s direct services including the online Survivors’ Forum, live webchat service and the ‘No Woman Turned Away’ project. Nicki’s remit also includes supporting and representing a national network of around 175 local member organisations providing violence against women services, as well as the National Training Centre. Nicki is also leading on a national project that is transforming multi-agency responses to domestic abuse in England and Wales – ‘Change that Lasts’.

Jo Silver, Director of Quality and Innovation, SafeLives

Jo is responsible for designing and piloting new and effective interventions to end domestic abuse, and ensuring that the voices of survivors are embedded through everything we do. Jo provides expert advice on activities, policy messages and practice, and works with national and local commissioners, funders, policy makers and partners to drive change. Jo rejoined us in January 2014, having spent two years as senior consultant at the NSPCC in Cardiff. She also worked for the police for ten years in the public protection unit and at the Women’s Safety Unit in Cardiff.

Rebecca Vagi, Manager, Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA)

Rebecca Vagi is the Whole Housing Programme Manager at Standing Together and delivering the first ‘Whole Housing Approach’ project, which improves the housing options and outcomes for people experiencing domestic abuse across all tenure types so that they can achieve stable housing, live safely and overcome the abuse and its harmful impacts. Rebecca has worked in the field of gender-based violence for 12 years delivering and managing front line services, coordinating a local community response to domestic abuse and working with health and housing organisations to build in-house interventions.

David Greening, Head of Housing, Cambridge City Council

David has been Head of Housing at Cambridge City Council since April 2018. Before this he held a number of roles across the last 15 years within Housing Services at the Council, including Housing Services Manager (Housing Advice) and Single Homeless and Rough Sleepers’ Coordinator. David started his career in local government as a Housing Advisor at the London Borough of Waltham Forest back in 1989 and, before his appointment with Cambridge City Council in 2003, he had also worked in the voluntary sector (most notably managing the Clearing House, which allocated housing to rough sleepers all over London), a number of registered providers in London and Manchester and a spell at the Local Government Association as a policy advisor. David has developed an interest in tackling domestic abuse having seen the significant contribution the issue has had as a cause of homelessness in the UK.

Holly Dagnall, Director of Homes and Wellbeing, Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA)

Holly has over 18 years of senior management experience in managing business risk, strategy, quality delivery and operational experience in the Housing, Care and Support sector. She joined NCHA in April 2002 initially to lead the organisational provision of specialist domestic abuse services.

Holly became Director of Housing with Care and Support in April 2016 after working across a broad portfolio of services. In April 2018 Holly took on the role of Director of Homes and Wellbeing bringing together NCHA’s specialist housing, care and support teams with social, affordable and submarket rent homes.

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