Domestic abuse: let’s work together to stop the harm
It is imperative to tackle the amount of serious and enduring harm inflicted on victims by perpetrators of domestic abuse. This is why domestic abuse is the only specific crime type that is an Area of Focus in the Police and Crime Plan for Essex.
In October 2013, I revealed that there were around twenty incidents every day in our county where a violent offence was recorded in a domestic or family setting. There are also around eighty incidents each day requiring an emergency police response. You can see further details in my article Too Often the Front Line is the Front Room.
I believe we are beginning to make progress in tackling this crime, but it will be a long and challenging journey.
It is clear to me that whilst Essex Police has a crucial part to play, it cannot solve the problem of domestic abuse alone. In July 2013, the Chief Constable and I led a Domestic Abuse Summit bringing national and local partners together to review the issues involved and agree an approach. I now chair the pan-Essex Domestic Abuse Strategy Board, which is leading on an ambitious programme of work across police, social care, health and the voluntary sector to tackle domestic abuse in a co-ordinated fashion.
Multi-agency teams have been created across Essex and the unitary authorities of Southend and Thurrock, who will ensure that victims at high risk of harm are identified at the earliest opportunity, with information shared across agencies and support packages quickly put in place.
In January 2014, we secured Home Office funding of £440,000 to Essex and Kent Police towards the cost of body worn cameras. Essex Police is now equipping its officers who attend domestic abuse incidents with these cameras so objective evidence of harm can be captured immediately and automatically. We are working with the new national College of Policing to evaluate the results of this initiative in a rigorous, scientific, manner.
In 2013-14, we awarded over £580,000 of funding to projects across Essex dedicated to reducing domestic abuse. This has included:
- £260,000 to Victims Support to help fund the Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) service for victims of domestic abuse
- £92,000 for a Community Budget pilot in Basildon & Braintree, to provide increased support for victims of domestic abuse
- £88,000 for the Sexual Assault Referral Clinic (SARC)
- £50,000 to the DAISY project to provide awareness training, support and advice to medical staff and midwives
- -£27,000 to Basildon’s Women’s Aid to increase domestic abuse support in the multi-agency domestic abuse Hub
- £26,000 to Colchester and Tendring Women’s Refuge
- £33,000 to Braintree, Castle Point, Colchester, Epping, Rochford, Southend and Uttlesford CSPs for domestic abuse awareness and training projects, including over £3,000 for the ‘Cut It Out’ campaign in Braintree.
You can see more detail about the innovative “Cut It Out” campaign here.
I am delighted that on March 7, International Women’s Day, Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh will introduce “Clare’s Law” into Essex. This programme, also known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, enables people to find out if their partners have a previous history of domestic violence. I sincerely hope the implementation of Clare’s Law across our county will help to prevent some of the harm inflicted by violent and abusive men, and by all perpetrators of domestic abuse.
There is much work to be done, and I know that there are highly talented and committed people working to reduce domestic abuse.
But we can all play our part. If you believe your sister, your neighbour, your best friend, is a victim of domestic violence, tell someone about it. Depending on where you live in the county, you can ring Safer Places or one of our Refuge groups. You can ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. You can ring Essex Police.
Let’s work together to stop the harm caused by domestic abuse.
You can much more detail about some new initiatives from Essex Police at their website here.