CCC meeting of 22 July - Domestic Abuse

Community Crime Commission Meeting, 22 July – Domestic Abuse

The first investigation meeting of the Community Crime Commission looked at domestic abuse in Redbridge, with presentations setting out the scale of the issue and how local services like the police and the NHS work to support victims.

The meeting opened with a presentation from Jo Silver, Director of Quality and Innovation from SafeLives, a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse. SafeLives has been running a research project into domestic abuse in Redbridge and Jo discussed some of their findings, including the shocking fact that by the time children start school, one child in every classroom will have been living with domestic abuse at home since they were born. Her presentation discussed some of the most common myths about domestic abuse – that it only “counts” as abuse if it involves physical violence, for example - and highlighted some of the barriers that currently prevent victims from seeking help.

The commission has asked for detailed case studies to be provided to them for further reading.

The Commissioners also heard about Reach Out, the Council-run service set up last year which supports residents who are being abused or are afraid of abuse. Reach Out runs programmes for women and children affected by domestic abuse, while the Spotlight programme works with perpetrators to change their abusive behaviour. The service has been looking at new ways of working and has experimented with using virtual reality as a way to reduce reoffending of domestic abuse by getting the perpetrators to see abuse from the child’s perspective.

A presentation by the Metropolitan Police followed, outlining how the police handle domestic abuse cases. It was explained that arresting perpetrators within 24 hours is crucial and that body worn cameras have resulted in increased early guilty pleas at court. An issue of staffing levels was highlighted to the commission, with more cases than specialist staff can effectively manage.

Submitted to the commissioners was a video from local voluntary sector organisations, speaking about their experiences of assisting the victims of domestic abuse, the challenges they face as front line services and remedies.

The Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital trust talked the commissioners through their report on domestic abuse. The report detailed how hospital safeguarding measures were applied and a detailed account of 4 domestic homicide reviews. The removal of an in-house independent domestic abuse advisor was raised as an obstacle to effectively assisting victims.