Agenda item

Domestic Abuse - Council Support Provided to Third Sector Organisations


Members received a paper that set out the support currently provided by the Council (through its grants and schemes) and regional and national bodies including the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, and the North Worcestershire Community Safety Partnership (NWCSP) to third sector organisations providing domestic abuse prevention services or supported victims of domestic abuse.


It was noted that the paper set out the list of grants provided by one of the above agencies to the third sector organisations, the project details, the grant amount associated with the service, and the geographical area covered by the service as some of the services covered the Redditch area specifically and other services on the list had a wider geographical reach, for example covering the whole of Worcestershire county or the West Mercia police area.


The Portfolio Holder for Community and Housing Services was invited to address the Committee and in doing so thanked the Overview and Scrutiny for deciding to scrutinise this topic. She noted that all Members had a role to play in raising awareness of the prevalence of domestic abuse in society, and to work towards reducing its incidence by raising awareness of the issue in local communities and assist and signpost residents towards the support services that were available.


The Portfolio Holder commented that the report provided reassurance that Redditch Borough Council was doing much, in conjunction with partners, to provide support to third sector organisations offering domestic abuse support services. It was vital that all council services had an awareness of recognising signs of domestic abuse issues, and the Portfolio Holder encouraged all Members to undertake the training on recognising signs of domestic abuse.


After the report presentation, the following areas were discussed and considered by Members:


·       Scale of domestic abuse in Redditch – It was noted that domestic abuse was a ‘hidden crime’ with many unreported incidents. It was estimated that victims of domestic abuse would experience 45-50 incidents before coming forward to report the issue to support agencies. Officers estimated that there were hundreds of families impacted by domestic abuse in Redditch Borough.

·       Identifying incidences of domestic abuse from data – Officers reported that domestic abuse was not classed as a crime type in itself. To analyse domestic abuse incidence, reported crime data shared by the police was interrogated by offence type within which some offences would have a marker recorded to indicate that the offence was classed as a domestic abuse case. For example, an incidence of assault with injury could have a domestic abuse marker included. It was noted that this would be recorded by the police officer investigating the crime who would put the marker against that crime. It was noted that for violence with injury offence, domestic abuse was the second highest marker, only behind the alcohol-related marker. For the reason above, however, it was difficult to break down crime data in terms of the number of domestic abuse crimes as a given crime could have multiple markers included.

·       Officers highlighted that domestic abuse reporting had increased which could indicate that more victims felt confident enough to come forward and seek support. While the community safety partnership agencies were undertaking a lot of work directly supporting the victims and families, there was likely more that could be done in terms of recording outcomes, for example records of the type of domestic abuse support provided in each case.

·       The Community Safety Manager reported that the Community Safety Team had direct contact with domestic abuse victims and survivors when undertaking work to make their homes safer, and this involved community safety project officers going into a property, undertaking a crime risk assessment and recommending improvements to the safety of the house such as window locks etc. Such sanctuary assessments, for example, provided anecdotal feedback from families supported, but collating quantitative data on outcomes presented a challenge because of the long-term impact associated with domestic abuse.

·       Domestic abuse and associated support services – It was explained that domestic abuse was often the underpinning factor for a lot of other issues. For example, incidents of domestic abuse could lead to homelessness and mental health concerns, substance misuse. Equally some of the above factors could lead to domestic abuse. As a result, it was difficult to delineate support in one area from another, for example, in the case of somebody who received a grant through homelessness support, for example, because they were fleeing from a domestic abuse situation. Due to these interlinks, it was felt appropriate that the paper included organisations providing support on issues that could be related to domestic abuse.

·       Third Sector Support Services specific to Redditch and county-wide commissioned services – It was noted that some organisations receiving grants listed in the report covered a wider geographical area than Redditch Borough, for example there were some services listed in the report that were commissioned across Worcestershire County or the West Mercia Police area. It was explained that when funding was provided from national government and from public health the services would be usually commissioned across the County. The Community Safety Manager explained that through the Joint Commissioning Group for Domestic Abuse and Substance Misuse the Council could monitor and look at detail of what the county-wide commissioned services delivered within Redditch Borough itself.

·       Members were encouraged to take part in the Domestic Abuse Needs Assessment Survey that was currently out for consultation, on the Worcestershire County Council’s website. Through this survey, Members had the opportunity to provide their views on how they see county-wide domestic abuse services should be delivered in the Borough.

·       It was noted that tackling domestic abuse was one of the priorities for law enforcement agencies because of its significant negative effects on society. It was estimated that in 2017, for example, tackling domestic abuse accounted for £66 million spend by law enforcement agencies. This figure had likely increased significantly since then.

·       It was reported that there West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner had made a major funding commitment to domestic abuse services, in particular organisations working on prevention route. As such, when local organisations were supported in applying for funding by the Council, they were encouraged to evidence how they would contribute to preventing domestic abuse in the first place.

·       It was noted that extra consideration was given to people trying to flee traumatic experiences. There was a direct link between the Council’s Community Safety Team and other Council departments such as Housing in particular. In the case of sanctuary assessments, it would be the initial contact by housing officers who would identify if somebody was able to stay in their home and if it needed to be made safer. The Community Safety Team would then go into the identified properties to undertake the sanctuary assessment itself.

·       The local Partnership organisation providing cross-agency framework for community safety (which included tackling domestic abuse) was the North Worcestershire Community Safety Partnership (NWCSP), there were forums within this such as Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence.

·       The Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) provided a comprehensive framework for making assessments of the cases and link the provision of appropriate services for victims and their children.




the report be noted.

Supporting documents: