68% uplift in the last week of victims reaching out for help in Sussex
Following a week-long awareness raising campaign of victim support services across the county, Safe: Space Sussex (the online directory of these services) has seen a 68% uplift in visitors to the site with, “Domestic Abuse (DA)” being the most searched crime type page. This report comes at an interesting time for victims of DA with the government’s announcement this week of new draft legislation to combat the impact of this type of abuse.
This legislation will finally recognise Domestic Abuse as the complex crime it is, outlining that it goes beyond crimes of violence and includes those who are psychologically coerced, as well as those who are denied access to their finances.
It will also clarify the workings of "Clare's Law" – a measure introduced four years ago to give both men and women the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them. Victims will also no longer have to face cross-examination in the family court by their perpetrators and those found guilty of this crime will be forced to participate in rehabilitation programmes like a pilot project the PCC, Katy Bourne has funded in Sussex.
Mrs Bourne comments, “Last week I held an awareness raising campaign for our local victim support services called ‘A Life More Ordinary’. It showcased six brave women who have been victims of various types of crime, sharing their stories and thanking the services who helped them on their journeys of recovery. I am so pleased to see that more victims have since been encouraged to seek the help and support they need.
“From the recent reports of the devastating impact DA has on its victims and the economy, I’m sure that residents of Sussex will not be shocked that the majority of those who have come forward for help are, in fact, victims of domestic abuse.
“This draft bill rightly recognises the complex nature of these crimes and puts the needs of victims and their families at the forefront. The proposed measures should hopefully encourage more victims to come forward in the knowledge that they will be believed and proper action will be taken.
“I think it’s also incredibly important that innovative perpetrator programmes such as the Drive project in Sussex will be supported by the government and allowed to continue making positive changes.
“The Drive project has worked with 100 of the highest risk perpetrators every year for the last three years. We know in Sussex that perpetrators will have, on average, up to six victims and a quarter of our high-risk victims have had this happen to them on more than one occasion. The results we are seeing in breaking this pattern of behaviour are really significant and exciting.
Natalie, one of the women who came forward for ‘A Life More Ordinary’ shared her experience of domestic abuse and why she thinks it is so important to have support services in place.
“I feel it’s really important that people aren’t stuck in these types of relationships, they need to find the courage to step away, but it’s hard. I went to the Portal, a local charity. I got amazing advice from a guy I will never forget, he was so inspiring. He made me feel comfortable and safe. The support groups were amazing. I feel when you see that someone else has got through it; it gives you the feeling that ‘yeah I can do that too’.”
Detective Superintendent John Wallace said: “This draft bill helps Sussex Police in our commitment to identify and protect vulnerable people and tackle domestic abuse – in all its forms.
“Sussex Police have long recognised that domestic abuse is not restricted to physical violence and that controlling behaviour, psychological and financial abuse, is no less of a crime.
“We understand that the legal system can deter and frighten those suffering abuse. Achieving these great changes would mark real progress. Sussex Police continues to work with regional partners and CPS to improve on our service and support to those suffering domestic abuse in whatever form.
“We have committed heavily to training our officers and staff through our ‘DA Matters’ training programme. Dedicated officers, at all ranks and in different roles, support our DA mentors scheme – where they as team-members support our force to deliver the best service and best outcomes when dealing with domestic abuse.
“We’re working hard to make Domestic Abuse Prevention Orders and Notices work for those suffering abuse, and to give individuals vital space to seek help and recognise, that there is a way out of an abusive relationship.
“Following on from the encouraging ‘good’ assessment in our most recent HMICFRS inspection, we’ll work with the PCC, CPS and partners to continue to improve and embed these positive changes and help people break free of domestic abuse – in whatever form.”
Offering her support for the bill, Katy Bourne said, “I back this bill and will continue to work hard to ensure that the voices of the victims and the needs of the services that support them are heard so the proposed measures are made law in this country.”