North Yorkshire Police have joined police forces across the country this week to raise awareness of Domestic Abuse and how the police and their partner agencies deal with these traumatic and often hidden crimes.
Statistics show that one in four women and one in six men will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime.
During 2012-13, 9,513 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to North Yorkshire Police, compared to 7,336 the previous year. This is one of the highest recorded increases across the country.
Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson who is head of North Yorkshire Police's Protecting Vulnerable Person's Unit, welcomed the figures as an indication that more people have the confidence to come forward and report incidents of abuse.
Det Supt Pearson said: "Domestic abuse is a hidden crime and it often takes a great deal of courage for someone to accept that a relationship is an abusive one. The fact that reported incidents to North Yorkshire Police have increased so much is indicative that more victims have the courage to come forward.
"Training for officers and staff in how to spot the signs of domestic abuse has vastly improved over the years which means it is identified and dealt with sooner.
"National research indicates that fewer than one in four victims will ever tell the police about their ordeal and those who do report to the police only make contact after they have been assaulted or abused 35 times, when a situation is often violent and high risk.
"Often people who are suffering in an abusive relationship do not identify that they are, or have the perception that it is not serious enough to report it.
"Families, friends or people who have contact with victims may have concerns but are not always sure whether to report it and what will happen if they do.
"I urge all those that are in such a position to make contact with the police at that point. Dealing with cases of domestic abuse and violence early prevents ongoing suffering and misery for those involved and provides an opportunity to address offending behaviour before it escalates to a more serious level.
"North Yorkshire Police will work with victims, together with other specialist service providers, to ensure that protective measures are taken in respect of the victim and any others who may at risk. "
Det Supt Pearson added: "North Yorkshire Police takes a vigorous stance to the investigation of these offences and works with a range of specialists across the county including Domestic Abuse Officers, specialist domestic violence courts and Independent Domestic Violence Advisors who will support a victim from the first report through to any court hearing and beyond.
"It's important that victims know what help is available to them from a wide range of organisations. A key area of our work is with housing organisations who work with us to deliver the award winning Making Safe scheme which provides alternative housing for perpetrators and in some cases the victims. The scheme can also provide extra security to allow the victim and any children to remain in the family home in safety."
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse takes many forms including physical violence, bullying, threatening, belittling, constant criticism, sexual abuse and financial control.
Abusive relationships frequently get worse over time and can become more physically violent as well as emotionally harmful.
Domestic abuse is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:
Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.*
*This definition includes so called 'honour' based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.
To report an incident of domestic abuse please call North Yorkshire police 101.
In an emergency or if your safety is threatened, always call the police on 999.
Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS) provide support and advice to men and women across York and North Yorkshire.
IDAS Independent Domestic Abuse Services 03000 110 110
IDAS Rape Support Line 0300 111 0777
If you are a victim of sexual abuse and you prefer not to contact the police, you can call North Yorkshire's Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Bridge House, on 01904 669 339 www.turntobridgehouse.org
Making Safe Scheme...
Making Safe is a multi-agency initiative which supports victims of domestic abuse and their children enabling them to remain in their own home while the perpetrator is found alternative accommodation. At the same time, support is put in place to challenge the perpetrator's behaviour.
The scheme can provide extra security to allow the the victim and children to remain in the family home, this may include fitting alarms, changing locks, and additional security.
The victim is also given support to enable them to make their own safety plans and obtain various orders from court, for example a restraining order.
If the case proceeds to court the victim is supported by the Independent Domestic Abuse Advisor (IDVA) right through the Criminal Justice process.
The perpetrator can also be offered floating support even if he/she does not require accommodation, for example emotional support, assistance with applying for benefits, life skills etc.
Referrals to the Making Safe Scheme can be made at any time, but it is more beneficial at the time of arrest.
Making Safeis not gender specific, both men and women can receive support under the scheme.
The full scheme is only available where violence is involved, however, other victims of abuse still have access to practical security measures and support services.
Definition of Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse includes physical violence, sexual assault, emotional and psychological abuse, and financial abuse. It also includes the threat of violence, destruction of property, isolation from family and friends, control over access to money, personal items, food, and the telephone.
Domestic abuse can occur between current or ex partners / spouses, and between family members including parents, son, daughter, uncles and aunts, and grandparents.
Domestic abuse is often frequent and persistent, and can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, sexuality, employment status, religion, race or culture, physical or learning disability, income, lifestyle or area of residence.
Many people do not realise they are in an abusive relationship or that there is help available.
Each incident is dealt with through a multi-agency response. From the initial report to the police, through to support and advice for victims from independent advisors, housing for both victims and perpetrators, safety planning including increased security for victims, continuous support through any court cases and counselling long after the initial police report has been dealt with.
North Yorkshire Police have specially trained police officers who work with victims of domestic abuse whose work feeds into the force's Safeguarding Hub. This is a coordination centre for protecting vulnerable adults and children and has recently been set up to ensure the response to victims of abuse is consistent and that the appropriate safeguarding measures are put in place to protect victims.
A range of professionals work within the hub which is integrated into the force's Protecting Vulnerable Persons Units across North Yorkshire and the City of York. These include:
Specialist Domestic Abuse Coordinators who are based in Community Safety Partnerships around the county and specialise in raising awareness of the help available for victims.
IDVAs work independently of the police. They are trained specialists who provide a service to victims of domestic violence who are at risk of harm from intimate partners, ex-partners or family members, with the aim of securing their safety and the safety of their children.
Independent Sexual Violence Advisors offer similar services to all victims of sexual crimes, including sexual violence within family relationships.
Serving as a victim's primary point of contact, IDVAs normally work with their clients from the point of crisis, to assess the level of risk, discuss the range of suitable options and develop safety plans. This support continues through and beyond any court appearance.
They are pro-active in implementing the plans, which address immediate safety, including practical steps to enable victims to protect themselves and their children, as well as longer-term solutions.
They provide support and advice for victims to steer them through legal processes and the various support services available. They will also support the victim through the court process, attending court and explaining what will happen.
They can also steer the perpetrators of the abuse towards help to prevent future offending. As often, the victims' want their abusers to get help. In North Yorkshire, the Making Safe programme works with victims and offenders to provide positive intervention, including programmes which challenges offenders' behaviour and encourages them to change it.
IDVA services are flexible to respond to the victims' individual circumstances. Leaving their communities or even their partner is not an option for many victims experiencing domestic violence, and neither is involving the criminal justice system. IDVAs will work with those victims who choose not to leave the family home.
Proactive advocacy, safety planning and support are essential in empowering victims of domestic violence to increase their safety regardless of the choices they make about staying in or leaving their relationship.
Every man or woman who is a victim of domestic abuse in York and North Yorkshire will be offered the services of an IDVA.
Referral to an IDVA will only be submitted with the victim's consent.
Victims do not have to go through the police and both male and female victims can contact the Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS) directly for referral to an IDVA.
North Yorkshire Police work with other agencies to provide safety planning for victims.
This can include changing locks, increasing your home's security, providing a direct link to the police in an emergency, general advice and working out a personal safety plan.
Having your own safety plan can help you protect you and your children. It helps you plan what you might due in the case of future violence or abuse. It can also help you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave.
You are not responsible for your partner's violence and abuse - only he or she is and only he or she can stop it. But there are things you can think about and do to increase your own and your children's safety.
North Yorkshire's Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS) provides a range of services to men and women across York and North Yorkshire who are victims of domestic abuse.
You can contact them direct without going through the police. North Yorkshire Police also work very closely with IDAS and signpost victims to the services they provide. www.idas.org.ukseek help
Specialist Domestic Violence Courts were established in North Yorkshire in 2006 for York, Selby and Scarborough, and later local arrangements were put in place at Northallerton, Skipton and Harrogate.
An Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) works from each of these specialist sessions. The Magistrates, bench officials and clerks all have specialist domestic violence training. They can also call on the expertise of the IDVA for advice and direction. This is designed to ensure that domestic abuse victims get the very best possible service from the criminal justice service.
Since the introduction of IDVAs and domestic abuse courts in 2005, North Yorkshire Police's conviction rate for domestic abuse has gone from being one of the lowest in the country to one of highest at 82% in 2010 and 79.5% in 2011, which surpasses the national average of 70%.
Research has shown that the provision of IDVA services increases safety, prosecutions and confidence in the criminal justice system, meaning more victims come forward to the police. While at the same time, their services help to reduce injuries, the number of children at risk, repeat victims, repeat homelessness and abandoned trials. It also assists emotional recovery and encourages more victims to seek help