A new strategy to reduce domestic violence, which accounts for up to 40% of Sutton's violent crime, has been launched by the Safer Sutton Partnership Service, which manages the borough's community safety services.
The action plan builds on the successes of the borough's Domestic Violence One Stop Shop and a 25% fall in the number of repeat victims over the last four years.
- engaging with perpetrators to discourage them from re-offending. This programme will include working with groups and individuals over a period of 18 months when this initiative will be reviewed
- encouraging increased reporting to police of domestic violence by working with GP surgeries in known hotspot areas and hospital A&E departments to identify and refer victims to support agencies. This will include concentrating on victims from groups least likely to report domestic violence such as those from black minority ethnic and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender communities as well as older people and those with disabilities. The Crime Survey for England and Wales, estimates that domestic violence DV is under-reported by up to 50%
- working with voluntary sector organisations to increasingly support community programmes for victims of domestic violence and their families
- assisting victims earlier following research which shows that on average, victims are assaulted 35 times before they report to police and go to eight different support agencies before they get the help they need.
The strategy was launched at Sutton's Domestic Violence Forum - a meeting of all the professionals working in domestic violence including police, council, health, victim support and the voluntary sector, on Tuesday, 2 March at the Salvation Army Centre, Benhill Road, Sutton.
One of the cornerstones of the borough's strategy has been its One Stop Shop, which provides advice and support from a number of experts at Sutton Baptist Church, Cheam Road, Sutton, every Wednesday 9.30-11.30am. Since its launch in July 2011, more than 700 victims have come through its doors to seek help.
In addition, the borough has been increasing the number of advisors it commissions from Victim Support to work closely to protect victims of domestic violence and their children. Their work, along with that of the One Stop Shop, has led to a 25% fall in the number of repeat victims over the last four years.
Detective Chief Inspector Rachael Porter, of Sutton, said: "We remain totally committed to investigating all allegations of domestic abuse robustly and bringing perpetrators to justice. However, it is right we make every effort to work with perpetrators to discourage them from re-offending whilst encouraging victims to come forward so they can get help as soon as possible."
Sutton's Domestic Violence Champion, Liberal Democrat councillor, Pat Ali said: "I am very supportive of the new strategy which was subject to a wide consultation among professionals in this field. By the building upon the success and achievements of the previous strategy, this new strategy will continue to tackle what is a very difficult and complex issue which affects people of all backgrounds, cultures, faiths, professions and work status and financial well-being. The focus remains to empower victims and ensure they are at the heart of the solution. It is the right way forward for the borough."
As part of a recent Met Police Operation, Dauntless, detectives from Sutton visited ten of the borough's most prolific offenders at their homes - and three offenders in prison prior to their release - to remind them that police will monitor their behaviour and investigate all allegations of domestic violence robustly. They were told that in order to reduce domestic abuse and protect victims and their children, police would prosecute them for any offences they committed and enforce any family or county orders. At the same time they were advised how they could seek help to stop re-offending, such as using the Respect Phoneline.
For further information about the One Stop Shop call: 020 7801 1777. Text DV to 65101.
The Helping Hands Project is appealing for more volunteers to come forward and help them support adults, young people and children who have experienced domestic abuse in Sutton. The group offers befriending and practical support to help prevent family breakdown. Full training and regular supervision is provided. Sutton volunteers can contact Tanya Edridge-Cook on 020 8401 6156 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org