"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:
- In 13,500 reported domestic violence cases, more than 8 out of 10 clients were women;
- In the last quarter of 2012 there were 3,300 reported domestic violence cases, an 11 per cent increase compared with the same period the previous year; and
- 16 per cent of people seeking advice about domestic abuse cases sought advice about domestic violence involving children.
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
- accredited, independent domestic violence advisers who advise clients on a wide range of issues relevant to domestic abuse including safety planning and help with applying for civil injunctions to protect them (and their children if necessary) from violence, threats or harassment and support at the Surrey Specialist Domestic Violence Court.
- a scheme for adaptations being made to clients home to enhance their safety and that of their family.
- keeping clients needs and wishes at the focus of their advice and support, advising them about what domestic abuse is and the behaviour patterns of perpetrators and to empower them to live confidently free from abuse.
- 12 week courses and workshops, that receive excellent feedback from attendees, to help empower women who have experienced domestic abuse.
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.
Did you know?
- On average two women a week are killed by a male partner or former partner - this constitutes around one-third of all female homicide victims
- Domestic violence accounts for between 16 per cent and one quarter of all recorded violent crime.
- 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.
- From March 2013 a new definition of domestic violence will be implemented to include ‘coercive control’. The previous definition defined domestic violence as a single act or incident. The new definition recognises that patterns of behaviour and separate instances of control can add up to abuse – including instances of intimidation, isolation, depriving victims of their financial independence or material possessions and regulating their everyday behaviour.
- As part of ‘A Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls’, the government has launched a consultation on ‘Clare’s Law’ a national Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme where an individual can ask the police to check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past.
- The British Crime Survey 2009/10 found that 16-19 year-olds were the group most likely to suffer abuse from a partner. 12.7 per cent of women and 6.2 per cent of men in this age group suffer abuse, compared to seven per cent of women and five per cent of men in older groups.
- Victims of domestic violence and abuse aged 16 and 17 are now recognised under a new cross-government definition, aimed at encouraging more of them to come forward and access the support they need – for example, speaking to someone about the abuse or contacting a helpline or a specialist service.
- Find out more about options available to people affected by domestic violence and abuse in Adviceguide from Citizens Advice.