Enough is enough – tackling domestic violence
Every year more than one million women suffer abuse. One in four report it to the police. In the North East the picture is no better. Domestic violence accounts for 25 per cent of all violent crime in the Northumbria Police force area. It costs public services an estimated £33 million to deal with – but the human cost is even more devastating.
Victims are subjected to terrible crimes including verbal and physical assaults, sexual violence, rape, financial abuse and psychological trauma. This of course puts them in grave danger, and the effects can stay with them for years, sometimes even life – destroying their confidence, trust and self-esteem.
Shelter found that 40 per cent of all homeless women were homeless due to domestic violence. They are more inclined to abuse drugs and alcohol in a bid to cope with their persecution. Children who witness domestic violence are also more likely to end up in care or need specialist drug and alcohol treatments.
In short the financial and human cost of domestic violence is enormous so we all have a legal and moral duty to report it and prevent it. We must change attitudes and behaviours that foster violence and intervene quickly. Victims, and their children, need support, and we as the local authority need to work with partners to provide the best possible service with the limited resources we have.
I recognise our current service could be better. The complicated funding arrangements have prevented our service from thriving. I know this because we have talked to more than 100 victims before re-examining our service. So we will create a single commissioning budget dedicated to all services that respond to domestic violence such as housing, community safety and grant budgets and use this to develop a complete service. View the Cabinet report here.
We will support women and children with purpose-built accommodation with an investment of £1.8m; crisis support, and a 24-hour helpline offering assessment, advice, outreach, resettlement and on-site help. There will be a single point of access and services tailored to the client in their own home. We will work with statutory partners to improve care by coordinating our services, raise awareness of the problem, share best practice and set up a joint commissioning group to get value for money.
The vast majority of victims are female – but more males are coming forward too – so we will support them through existing housing and develop support while carrying out research to find out the full picture.
We are determined to tackle domestic violence. We will not rest until every woman in Newcastle has access to safe, effective and rapid support. For too long, too many women have suffered in silence. They don’t need to and we won’t let them.