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More work needed to spot early signs of domestic abuse, conference hears


(L-R): Hardyal Dhindsa; Sue Clifford, NoOffence!, CRC; Alan Charles; Mary Bosworth, Office of the PCC; Zoe Billingham, HMIC; Graham Goulden, Chief Inspector, Scottish Violence Reduction Unit; Dena Trossell, Derbyshire DV & Sexual Assault Service

Experts from health, education and criminal justice arrived in Derbyshire for a national conference examining domestic violence prevention.

The ‘Is Prevention Better than Cure’ event, held in Chesterfield last week (Wednesday April 22), brought together leading figures from charities, voluntary organisations and the public sector to address a series of domestic violence issues including lack of confidence among victims to report their experiences.

The aim of the conference, which was organised by national criminal justice network NoOffence! in partnership with Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles, was to identify new approaches to protecting vulnerable people from abusive relationships - before they suffered physical or psychological harm.

Delegates heard that specialist training was critical to helping professionals within the education, criminal justice and health arenas identify those most at risk so they could be signposted to the most effective support.

There also needs to be more collaborative working between the agencies responding to the problem to make the best use out of resources and deliver consistently high service to survivors across Derbyshire.

Commenting on the conference, Commissioner Charles said: “One of the overriding themes to come out of the conference has been the need for mainstream funding to be invested into support facilities for survivors. While I’ve dedicated a significant proportion of my Community Safety Fund into improving advice and practical help for victims of domestic abuse, it’s clear that a bigger commitment is needed centrally to enable public protection agencies to take this forward and build on the good work taking place at a grassroots level.

“Many domestic abuse organisations operate on a year-to-year or even six-monthly basis, not knowing where their next source of funding will come from. Long-term benefits cannot be achieved with such uncertainty. Greater energy should be spent on expanding the services which are delivering positive outcomes and exploring more options for preventative work - this can only be achieved with financial security.

“The conference has been vital to pushing these kinds of issues to the forefront of domestic abuse work but it’s what we do now that makes a difference. There is a collective agreement that future work should not only safeguard those who have already suffered at the hands of an abusive partner but importantly vulnerable people who have a chance to escape such a fate if offered the right help.”

Shocking national figures reveal victims experience on average 50 incidents of abuse before seeking help while seven women are killed every month by a violent partner or ex-partner. It is also estimated that 140,000 children are currently living in high risk homes.

The Commissioner highlighted the need for prevention activity, saying “I believe that awareness of domestic abuse, like sex education, should be on the school’s main curriculum.  We need to ensure that young people understand that abuse is not acceptable, we need to provide support for those at risk to help them get out of abusive relationships and we need to act now.” 

Increasing support for victims of domestic abuse is one of the key priorities outlined within Commissioner Charles’ Police and Crime Plan. This month he announced almost £100,000 of Ministry of Justice funding for a host of domestic violence projects which will secure services until March 2016. 

A large proportion of the funding - £34,392 – has been awarded to the Derbyshire Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Service to fund a court-based Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) post in the north of the county for a period of 12 months.

IDVAs focus on high risk victims and support individuals at a point of crisis, helping them to plan safety strategies to protect them and their families.

Increased support is seen by many professionals as the key to encouraging more victims to report their experiences to police and recent increases in incidents is seen as positive.

The conference heard that improvements in the training of professionals such as GPs, teachers and social services could also lead to more victims being offered early help.



Media Enquiries:    Sallie Blair – 01283 821012 / 07702 541401


Posted on Wednesday 29th April 2015
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