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Sharp rise in domestic violence cases handled by Citizens Advice Bureaux

8 March 2013

"These figures for domestic violence cases show it is disturbingly high and afflicts all levels of society – it haunts the lives of too many women and children. Progress has been made with more women feeling able to tell advisers they are victims and getting the help they need."
Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice Chief Executive

‘Hidden crime’ – Walton Weybridge and Hersham Citizens Advice Bureau leads the way recording the highest number of domestic violence cases

New figures from Citizens Advice show an 11 per cent increase in the number of clients telling bureau advisers they are suffering domestic violence, a year after the Government announced moves to criminalise stalking and help victims of domestic violence.

As the UK sees economic recovery stagnate and people feel the pressures of a double-dip recession alongside welfare and public sector reform, advisers are seeing a sharp rise in the number of domestic violence cases, which includes physical violence, emotional and sexual abuse.  The figures for the last year show:

Concerned about this rising trend, from April, 10 Citizens Advice Bureaux across England and Wales will take part in 'ASK' - a ground breaking pilot project where staff will support debt and housing clients enduring gender and domestic violence.

Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice Chief Executive said:

“These figures for domestic violence cases show it is disturbingly high and afflicts all levels of society – it haunts the lives of too many women and children. Progress has been made with more women feeling able to tell advisers they are victims and getting the help they need. But, as illustrated by Walton Weybridge and Hersham CAB who have made uncovering the scale of domestic violence and offering help to victims a priority, it is often a hidden crime.

“This is why, through 10 pilots across the country, Citizens Advice is looking at how it can improve the level of support on offer to women suffering domestic violence. Home Office figures show one in 10 emergency calls to police are categorised as domestic violence related, rising in some areas to a fifth of all 999 alerts.  

“As the scale of Government cuts start to bite, we are concerned that our trend highlights how levels of domestic violence could get even worse.  We call on the Prime Minister to honour his committment, made on the last International Women's Day, to government doing everything it can to deal with the problems of violence against women in our society and ensure they have the support needed.”

Citizens Advice Bureaux have been pioneering tackling domestic violence. In particular, for the last 10 years bureaux in Walton, Weybridge and Hersham have been working and sharing best practice with bureaux across the country, to influence measurable improvements in safety, including reducing the escalation and severity of abuse.

Four ways Walton, Weybridge and Hersham CAB are helping victims of domestic violence

Walton, Weybridge and Hersham Manager Jane Bourgeois said:

"Our domestic abuse advice service has grown significantly over the last 10 years and has enabled us to develop excellent working relationships with other organisations across all sectors.

“Many of our referrals come directly from Surrey Police following Domestic Abuse Stalking and Harassment risk assessments (DASH) and we attend our local multi agency risk assessment conferences as the voice of the victim to provide the best possible joined up approach to support victims and their families.  

“I would encourage all bureaux to develop services to support people affected by domestic abuse.  It is very evident that this is a widespread serious problem within our society that goes largely unreported.”

Citizens Advice supports the aims of One Billion Rising which asks men and women to stand up for the billion women globally who experience violence in their lives.

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Citizens Advice

Notes to editors:

  1. This year the Citizens Advice service celebrates its 75th anniversary. We’ve planned a year of activity running from January to December 2014. Contact the press office to find out more.
  2. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  3. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  4. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at www.adviceguide.org.uk
  5. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 or 08454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  6. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 6.6 million problems from April 2012 to March 2013. For full 2012/2013 service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  7. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 22,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.