According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales year ending March 2019, an estimated 2.4 million adults experienced domestic abuse in the last year. This clearly evidences the work that needs to be done in tackling domestic abuse and violence in England and Wales.
While over half of vulnerable women entering the criminal justice system have experienced domestic abuse and violence, a 2019 report by Age UK found that over 200,000 people aged 60 to 74 suffered domestic abuse in England and Wales annually.
The above figures are testament to the fact that domestic abuse is both a huge problem but also that the problem spans across a wide age range in the UK. With this in mind, the criminal justice system, health sector, social housing providers, charities, and local government all need to work together to ensure that they respond effectively and provide the neccessary support to domestic abuse victims
What Progress is Being Made with Domestic Abuse at a Local and National Level?
The government is showing promising signs of progress in terms of tackling Domestic Abuse and Violence in the UK with the introduction of the updated Domestic Abuse Bill to Parliament in February 2020 and the appointment of the new Domestic Abuse Commissioner Designate, Nicole Jacobs. Her role will be crucial to aiding this multi-agency approach to tackling domestic abuse and violence. The Commissioner will be championing victims, providing the public sector with best practice recommendations on actions to protect victims better and help to bring offenders to justice.
Already, there exists innovative local examples across the UK where multi-agency, whole-system approaches are working, and working well! The WILD Young Parents Project which has been commissioned by Cornwall Council is focusing on working 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. The project is proving successful and has led to 90% of parents participating, improving their confidence in parenting and providing 1 in 5 with employment. This is a clear example of how to tackle domestic abuse while also leading to improvements in other aspects of an individual’s life. Providing vulnerable women and men with a support platform to get on with their life will drastically reduce their chances of entering into criminality and creating a safer environment for everyone. Additionally, Nottingham Community Housing Association is providing dedicated housing support to victims of domestic abuse through the ‘Derbyshire WISH’ programme, a supported housing project which provides emergency, short term refuge for women & children and which is part of a wider Derbyshire Domestic Abuse Consortium.
The NHS is also working to tackle this issue with the release of their ‘Strategic Direction for Sexual Assault and Abuse Services: Lifelong care for victims and survivors: 2018-23’ strategy which outlines how public health will strengthen preventative measures, involve victims in improving services and promote safeguarding and the safety of victims and survivors. As part of their strategy, the NHS has also established a national victims’ and survivors’ voices group, managed by NHS England.
Call to Collaborative Action in an attempt to tackle Domestic Abuse and Violence
With the above in mind, there is clearly a wide of range of sectors involving themselves both nationally and locally in tackling domestic abuse. The above also signals the beginnings of an integrated approach to the problem- namely the Nottingham Community Housing Association’s involvement in the Derbyshire Domestic Abuse Consortium. However, action from all sectors now needs to take a forward step through collaborative multi-agency working in which sectors can pool their resources and share best practice.
This article was written by Elin Sams at Inside Government