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How to solve the growing problem of domestic violence in Havering

PUBLISHED: 12:10 18 August 2014 | UPDATED: 12:11 18 August 2014

Domestic abuse. Picture: Shutterstock

Domestic abuse. Picture: Shutterstock

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Domestic abuse is prevalent in Havering with the number of cases being reported to police by both men and women rising faster than most other London boroughs.

Reports of domestic violence offences have increased by 42.9 per cent in the past year. Offences totalled 170, add to this what police term as ‘domestic incidents’ and the figure increases to 283.

In the 12 months to June, 172 women reported three or more cases to police.

Cllr Wendy Brice-Thompson, Havering Council’s cabinet member for adult services and health, said: “I think there are probably several reasons for this. There’s been an increase in these crimes being recorded and the definition of domestic violence has changed to take in a greater number of people, including victims from just 16. The police also now take into account historic crimes.

“There has also been a rise in men reporting domestic violence. This is something that has taken a long time because it’s difficult for men to come forward.”

Havering Council’s community safety team is calling for a borough-wide, multi-agency approach to providing support to victims of domestic violence with the ultimate goal of reducing occurrences.

Domestic violence is defined as any incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between people aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members.

Its definition includes – but is not limited to – psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse.

National statistics suggest that one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, with between six and 10 per cent suffering from it in a given year.

On average two women a week are killed by a partner or ex-partner, which constitutes nearly 40pc of all female murder victims.

Cllr Brice Thompson said: “A lot of young people seem to accept it as being part of the norm in a relationship. We need to start with very strong role models – women who are strong and men being accepted as being in more caring roles.

“I would like to see it [domestic violence] brought out into the open so that people feel they can report anything. Just a greater awareness all round of the problem. I also think we have to work with the support groups.”

Arrest charge and caution rates in Havering are slightly below the London average. But, the successful prosecution rate is above average at 69.8 per cent.

Havering police have identified domestic violence as an area of concern and pledged investment.

Cynthia Griffin, group director for culture, community and economic development, presented the council’s report to its Health and Wellbeing Board.

She said: “Our ambition is to move on the borough’s collective response to violence against women.

“There are lots of good things going on but I believe we can improve things in a number of ways and get better outcomes,”

Chairing the meeting, Cllr Steven Kelly, urged those working on the plan to prepare for the changing demographics of the borough and formulate an approach to issues including female genital mutilation and honour-based violence.

There are a number of groups already providing support in the borough including Havering Women’s Aid which arranges drop in appointments, a telephone support service and refuge accommodation. Other charities providing support and advice include the East London Rape Crisis Centre and the Domestic Abuse Champions Network.

If you need to speak to someone contact Havering Women’s Aid on 01708 728759 or police on 101. More information on the support available can be found at havering.co.uk/domesticviolence.

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