How best to stop abuse in the home

Northumbria Police commissioner Vera Baird and Chief Constable Sue Sim talk to students at Harton Technology College
Northumbria Police commissioner Vera Baird and Chief Constable Sue Sim talk to students at Harton Technology College

TACKLING domestic abuse was on the agenda at a special conference in Northumberland.

More than 100 delegates attended the event last Thursday, which was organised by the Safer Northumberland Partnership and Northumberland Safeguarding Children’s Board (NSCB).

It looked at a range of issues such as identifying gaps in service provision, raising awareness of the impact of domestic abuse on the whole family and further integrating service provision.

There were also some engaging drama presentations from the Eye Witness Theatre Company about the subject.

Vera Baird, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Northumbria, delivered the keynote speech.

Explaining why she wanted to be part of the conference, she said: “As domestic abuse happens mostly behind closed doors, it is something of a hidden crime.

“Therefore, I’m committed to raising awareness of what domestic abuse is, what help and support is available for those suffering from it and making it easier for victims to contact someone to get help.

“As a society, we need to understand this issue and use creative means to tackle it. This conference, which has brought together partners from agencies across Northumberland, will help us to work together to reduce domestic abuse and make people safer.”

There are around 28,000 reports of domestic violence in the Northumbria force area each year – this equates to an average of 2,270 incidents per month and 2,000 victims every month.

Ms Baird added: “Although progress has been made in this area, it’s clear that more must be done to address and prevent this shocking violence.

“I’m committed to increasing convictions and driving down incidents and I want victims to have more confidence in reporting it to police and ensure that officers do all they can to make reporting of domestic and sexual violence as straightforward as possible, listen to victims and take action to support them and make them safe.

“As part of my strategy for tackling domestic abuse, I am working with the other two North East PCCs and the North East Women’s Network to develop a regional ‘Violence Against Women’ strategy.

“I want to send a clear message that all incidents of domestic and sexual abuse and violence will be investigated and there is independent support available to ensure victims have the support they need.”

Those who attended the conference in Ashington were invited for having expertise in particular areas, including social care, health, education, housing, youth services and community safety. Those helping to tackle the issue from the private and voluntary sectors were also asked to come along.

The other guest speakers were Frank Mullane, domestic homicide advocate, and Sally Steadman-South, of the Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse Service.

Northumberland county councillor Robert Arckless, policy board member for children’s services, said: “Combatting domestic abuse is a vitally important area of work and this conference brought together a range of professionals who are committed to sharing best practice and finding sustainable solutions.”