Home Office definition of domestic abuse and violence is: “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.
The term “sexual offences” covers a variety of offences including rape, sexual assault, offences against children, and those related to prostitution, extreme pornography and the possession and distribution of indecent images.
Key data points
Domestic Abuse Reporting in Bexley (12 month rolling to May 2018)
Data source: MOPAC Performance Framework & Domestic and sexual violence dashboard
- Domestic Abuse offences in Bexley have remained constant over the last two 12 month periods to May 2018, however London has experienced an increase during this period.
- Bexley reported domestic abuse offences are 1,848 for the period.
- Domestic abuse offences have increased by 6% in London, but remained stable with a small decrease of -0.6% in Bexley.
The map below highlights that the most prominent wards for domestic abuse incidents are located in the north of the borough and in areas of higher deprivation.
Victims of Domestic Abuse
- Bexley has a low rate of 15 domestic Abuse incidents per 1,000 population, compared with other London Boroughs.
- The total number of repeat domestic abuse victims in September 2017 was 78.
- In the year to September 2017, 496 people were proceeded against in Bexley for domestic abuse, of which 71% were charged and 28% were cautioned, this is comparable with the London.
Sexual Offence Reporting in Bexley (12 month rolling to May 2018)
Data source: Metropolitan Police Crime Data Dashboard
- There has been an upward trajectory in sexual offences across both Bexley and London.
- Reported sexual offences are 424 for the period up 43 offences on the previous 12 month period.
- Other sexual offences have increased by 10.6%.
- Rape offences have increased by 12.6%.
The map below highlights that the most prominent wards for sexual offences.
Safe Lives data on Children’s Social Care
- Domestic abuse in the home features in almost half (47%) of the overall Children’s Social Care caseload. Of these 374 cases open to Children’s Social Care where domestic violence is a factor, the majority (79%) also have child neglect or abuse too, highlighting the overlap between domestic abuse and direct harm of children.
- The impact of domestic abuse on children is particularly significant given Bexley’s population is growing faster than the national average, especially across children and young people. By 2021 the estimated population of 0-19 year olds in Bexley will be 67,000, a growth of 9% from the 2014 estimates.
Domestic abuse is a common feature in cases open to children’s social care nationally and this reflects in Bexley. The Family Wellbeing Service has domestic abuse as a key criteria and in February 2017 21.2% of children open to the service, lived in a household where there is domestic abuse. In 2017/18 there were 671 children with a child in need assessment that had domestic abuse identified as a factor.
In March 2017, 77% of children with a Child Protection plan had domestic violence marked as a factor. Of those children with a Child in Need plan, 54% had domestic violence marked as a factor. Note that for these figures, Looked After Children were taken out of the calculation as they are not currently in the household where domestic abuse may be a factor, as were children with a disability as they are significant number of the Child in Need caseload but not due to safeguarding concerns
We identify and provide services on the basis of risk and need. We aim to ensure that individuals experiencing domestic abuse will find our services easy to use and easy to find.
These services include: the identification, assessment and risk-management of cases identified as standard, medium and high risk, preventative services for women and children, statutory safeguarding for children at risk, self-referral to specialist support and access to national refuge provision. There is currently statutory provision for perpetrators through London CRC, supervision of offenders through the National Probation Service, a specialist Domestic Violence Court and police officers trained in domestic abuse.
The MASH is the boroughs first point of contact for new safeguarding concerns and has significantly improved the sharing of information between agencies, helping to protect the most vulnerable children and adults from harm, neglect and abuse. It comprises of a range of multi agency partners including children’s social services, Police, IDVA’S and specialist domestic abuse service. The MASH receives safeguarding concerns from professionals such as teachers and doctors as well as members of the public and family members. For those concerns that meet the threshold for Social Care involvement, representatives from the different agencies in the MASH and outside will collate information from their respective sources to build up a holistic picture of the circumstances of the case and the associated risks to the child or adult. As a result, better decisions will be made about what action to take and support will be targeted on the most urgent cases. Feedback will also be given to professionals reporting concerns. Better co-ordination between agencies will lead to an improved service for children and families.
Bexley is one of 7 areas that have been developing the One Front Door approach, ensuring that all concerns regarding domestic abuse are assessed with a multi-agency approach.
Bexley MARAC (multi agency risk assessment conference) is a twice monthly multi agency meeting that hears cases assessed as being at high risk of harm (at risk of serious harm or homicide).
Cases are referred in through any agency such as police, housing, IDVA (independent domestic abuse advisers), specialist services, safeguarding, GP’s, probation and statutory and voluntary services. Information sharing, risk management and robust action plans are developed to ensure that safety of victims and their children.
Number of children in household in cases discussed at Bexley MARAC between 25/04/2017 and 10/04/2018 (including repeats): 363
In 2017/18 281 cases were heard at MARAC in Bexley. Currently our repeat victimisation rate at MARAC is 11.2%, nationally this is 28%, therefore we are reviewing our MARAC protocols and developing training to ensure that professionals are able to recognise an deal with high risk cases.
Through our current needs assessment we have identified gaps in provision of domestic abuse services and these are being addressed in the re-commissioning of our services for 2019.
Some of these gaps include partner agencies having an integrated IT system which will ensure smooth transition of cases between partners, which will also benefit pathways to support. Early intervention and prevention services to ensure that we are promoting healthy relationships and offering support at an earlier stage which will reduce escalation. We recognise that further support is needed for black minority ethnic communites, particularly in the North of the borough, complex needs such as disability, youth violence within the home, a strong focus on care leavers and offering counselling services both for adults and children to overcome the trauma of domestic abuse.
In 2016 the Domestic Abuse Commission was established to reconstruct a strategy to manage and address the needs of families living with domestic abuse in Bexley. The Commission has brought together local partners, including the police, national and London probation services, Oxleas NHS Community Trust, and the local voluntary sector, in order to tackle domestic abuse more effectively in collaboration. Together we have produced an interim Strategy and pioneering a One Front Door approach in order to make an enduring and positive difference for all Bexley residents affected by domestic abuse.
Bexley’s Domestic Abuse Strategic priorities are:
- Help for families in all settings where they are likely to have contact, including GP surgeries, schools and housing departments
- Children and adult services working more closely together to share information about families where there is known violence – this will also include public health colleagues
- Specialist drug, alcohol and mental health services knowing how to identify and act to protect victims – including sharing information where the adults engaging with the services are also parents or carers
- Help for teenagers living in abusive relationships, making sure that there is good connectivity between adult and children’s services
- Strengthened families and strong community responses so that domestic abuse is reported and all victims receive a safe and appropriate response
- Programmes of support for the whole family – child, victim and perpetrator
- Implementing ‘signs of safety’ and ‘signs of well-being’ in all our work to support families where there is known or suspected abuse
- The new ‘one front door’ concept being promoted and trialled in Bexley
- Multi-Agency Domestic Abuse Training Programme
We are currently developing our new Domestic Abuse Strategy in line with re-commissioning new services for 2019. These will be developed in consultation with our partners and will include our priority areas. This includes revising our pathways to support and ensuring that our data is robust to inform future plans.
We have developed a domestic abuse, sexual violence and VAWG (violence against women and girls) Training Brochure which is available to all professionals within the borough to ensure that staff have access to regular training to increase their knowledge and expertise.
Through our domestic abuse strategic group we will be launching our multi agency domestic abuse website to ensure that every Bexley resident has access to support and information, with targeted campaigns throughout the year.