To receive a report from Andrea Clemons, Head of Community Safety.
Andrea Clemons, Head of Community Safety and Shan Kilby, Domestic Violence Co-Ordinator presented this report and highlighted the following:
· The trend for recorded Domestic Abuse offences is upward with an increase of 124 cases in the past year
· Copies of leaflets were shown to attendees of recent campaigns encouraging people to report incidents. It was emphasised that this crime was no respector of wealth, geography, gender or ethnicity.
· The police are conducting a review of domestic abuse offences to be completed by the end of October 2016. This is a priority area for the police. The annual report from the Crown Prosecution service shows that domestic abuse, rape and sexual offences has increased by nearly 9% in six years.
· The Governments’ refreshed- ‘Violence against Women and Girls Strategy 2016-2020’ focuses on ‘prevention, provision of services, partnership working and pursuing perpetrators’. There may be a shortage of funding available for initiatives aimed at perpetrators of this crime to change their behaviour.
· MOPAC produced a report on Domestic Abuse in London 2015-16 looking at homicides that had occurred and what services are available and what services are required. Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVA’s) are in short supply across London
· It was thought the new Police & Crime Commissioner would be looking for more ‘outcome focused reports’ in future. An example of this would be to show whether someone’s life had been improved as a result of a new programme.
· The funding allocation for next year is to be announced shortly. It was noted that although Enfield has many of the same issues as inner London boroughs they have not always seen funding allocations matching demands.
The following questions were raised from Members:
Q: Do we have an adequate provision of Refuges in Enfield?
A: We have an appropriate number in respect of proportionality – that is to say Enfield has reasonable access. Some people from outside the borough may make use of the spaces in Enfield; similarly some of our residents may use facilities outside the borough.
Q: Do we know if the increased number of cases of domestic abuse are coming from particular ‘groups’ - Some groups may not recognise that this is abuse?
A: We have looked in some detail at the data for victims. It appears to show that women in their 30’s represent the largest increase in numbers. There is a likelihood that more young people are shown in the data, as reporting age range has been lowered. The Council has targeted communications at younger women as it is believed that there is under- reporting in this group past especially with regard to young women who have links to gang members. It should also be remembered that we have a large population with an increasing number of younger people.
Q: Do we know which ethnic minority groups are involved? When these things happen the people concerned may not see it as a problem?
A: It is understood that the top group that report offences are white women in their thirties. It is thought that there is massive under – reporting from all ethnic groups. In Enfield, referrals are made to the Enfield Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC for repeat victims or victims of very serious offences.
Q: It appears that there is a high incidence of repeat cases/ situations?
A: Statistics show that for Enfield ‘in August 2016 victims of Domestic Violence who had been a victim of crime during the previous 12 months represented 18.24% of all Domestic Violence victims’ however it should be noted that the previous incident may not have been one for domestic violence. MARAC would look at serious cases where there is more than one incident.
Q: The report refers to- ‘the proportion of sanctioned detections has decreased for Domestic Abuse in Enfield from 33.4% to 31.3%’ what is meant by ‘sanctioned detections’?
A: It is understood that this is where there is a positive outcome attained through the criminal system. It would be where the perpetrator has had a prison sentence, or has been given a caution. If no further action had been taken then this would not be classified as ‘sanctioned’.
Q: When will we have information from the police review of domestic abuse cases?
A: It is hoped that this will be concluded by the end of October 2016.
Q: The report suggests that cases identified as standard or medium risk would need greater focus which could be resourced via additional case workers – would this be for the Police or the Council to arrange?
A: It would be for the Council to do.
The following questions/ issues were raised from the public:
Q: Do you know what the main ‘triggers’ are leading to domestic abuse?
A: Domestic Abuse is routed in ‘control’ issues, alcohol and drug use are disinhibitions not causal factors although can lead to more violent behaviour. New legislation last year aims to address coercive behaviour –(Serious Crime Act 2015). Pregnancy is also often a key factor for the start of domestic abuse.
When looking at the perpetrators of domestic abuse, it was not known if their marital status could be determined from data.
It was thought that the process of measuring ‘outcomes’ rather than output as previously mentioned, would prove to be ‘challenging’
Shan Kilby stated that the government are working with ‘Women’s Aid’ looking at the Standards Framework to ensure consistency at National level. In measuring ‘outcomes’ from MOPAC funding, it would be expected that ‘providers’ should be able to provide this information.
Referrals that are made to the Enfield Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) would often involve other areas of concern such as - housing problems, substance abuse, or mental health issues.
Q: Although people assume that the perpetrator of domestic abuse would be a husband or partner, I understand this is not always the case?
A: Yes this may be reported through the Safeguarding Adults route, it may be someone who is looking after an elderly parent. Statistics could be provided to give adult/ child breakdown data. It is expected however that the increase in cases for women in their 30’s were probably more likely to relate to husband/ partner relationships.
Q: How are cases of domestic abuse linked in with the council’s Children’s Services?
A: There is close working with the Safeguarding Children’s Board. The police automatically log all incidents of crime where children are involved. The Child Sexual Exploitation Team may also be involved. Whether a case would be considered as one of domestic or child abuse would depend on the individual circumstances, each case is assessed on an individual basis and progressed appropriately.