Published Thursday, 15 July 2021
Coventry City Council is building on its work with partners across the city and representatives of victims and their children in a new approach to help those who suffer domestic abuse, and key to this is formation of a new Domestic Abuse Local Partnership Board.
As part of the new Domestic Abuse Bill, every local authority in England has to carry out certain duties, including creating a Local Partnership Board.
The new board will advise the Council on domestic abuse matters, including the level of support needed and evaluating how effective that support is.
The board will include a wide range of organisations, including those representing victims and their children, health care providers and the police, as well as domestic abuse charities and voluntary organisations.
Partner organisations are gathering feedback from a Domestic Abuse Needs Assessment carried out in June. The assessment, once analysed, will help to inform how the city continues to develop the services currently available; from housing and refuge places to safety planning and practical support for families.
In September services users, practitioners and people affected by domestic abuse will be able to help shape the future strategy for the city to address all forms of domestic abuse.
The Board will be chaired by Cllr Pervez Akhtar, Deputy Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities.
Cllr Akhtar said: “Protecting people from domestic abuse is a key priority for our city and this new Board will help us to ensure that we are acting in the most effective way to give help and support to those who need it.
“In recent months we have seen domestic abuse increase as a consequence of Covid restrictions, and it is a problem for Coventry, as it is for every city.
“It is a crime that can often go unreported and we must make sure those who are abused know there are safe ways to seek help, and people who will listen and see that they and their families are protected. We must make sure we have the right level of protection and that services are provided in the way that people need.
“We know more needs to be done, but as a Council we cannot do it alone and the Board will allow us to work in partnership with experts in the area and to learn from those who sadly have suffered themselves.
“This is a very important step in helping vulnerable people in our city and it fits in perfectly with our One Coventry approach where the Council, the city’s organisations and residents, unite to tackle issues together and give the best service possible.”
The term Domestic Abuse also applies to areas such as Female Genital Mutilation, ‘honour-based’ violence and forced marriage.
The new Domestic Abuse Bill was signed into law at the end of April. The new definition of domestic violence and abuse in law is expanded and now states - any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
In 2019/20, there were 29.7 domestic abuse related incidents and crimes in the West Midlands Police area per 1,000 population. This has risen by 26% since 2015/16 and is above the national average of 28 incidents.
During 2018 and 2019 the average number of monthly reports involving domestic abuse to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) in Coventry was 328. Between April 2020 and March 2021 this rose to a monthly average of 415 reports per month as COVID and lockdown restrictions created extra problems.
It is also known that many crimes go unreported and the actual level in the city is greater than figures show.
During the pandemic, the Council has invested additional resources in schemes to protect victims, including creating extra specialist accommodation and employing more domestic abuse specialists.
The Council has also received a Government grant of £849,930 to help provide safe accommodation for victims and their children.
The Local Partnership Board is the latest stage in that work and will ensure that all work is effective and meets the needs of victims.
Domestic abuse provisions in Coventry includes:
There is also a programme to jointly support children affected by domestic abuse using a counselling service and their non-abusing parent to help re-establish parental relationships; and an 18-week perpetrator programme, called Choose2Change, to try and stop further abuse in the future. This is all part of a citywide domestic abuse strategy running from 2018 to 2023.
If you, or someone you know, is worried about or is a victim of domestic abuse please call the Safe to Talk helpline on 0800 111 4998 or visit the Safe to Talk website for independent and confidential advice and support about domestic abuse.
The Safe to Talk helpline is available Monday to Friday 8.30am - 5.30pm and Saturday to Sunday, 10am - 1pm. For support call 0800 111 4998.