Southampton City Council Launches New Scrutiny Inquiry To Tackle Domestic Violence Perpetrators

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On Thursday 31st January from 6-8pm in Conference Room 3 of the Civic Centre, the Southampton City Council is holding their first meeting of the ‘Reducing and Preventing Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse’ inquiry.

In the first meeting, the scrutiny inquiry panel, who are consisting of Councillor McEwing, Councillor Mitchell, Councillor Harwood, Councillor Galton, Councillor Laurent, Councillor Payne, and Councillor Coombs, will ‘consider what may be done to reduce incidents of domestic violence in Southampton, with a focus on preventing people from abusing their intimate partner‘. For more information on the first meeting of the inquiry, please find the report for the first meeting here.

There will be experts there, such as Sara Kirkpatrick from Respect UK, the leading domestic violence organisation who work with perpetrators, male victims and young people. Respect UK has also developed the standards and accreditation for services working with perpetrators and the Respect Accreditation Standard is the benchmark for the provision of quality interventions with men who use violence against their intimate partners. Dan King, Southampton City Council’s Service Lead for Intelligence and Strategic Analysis, as well as Karen Marsh, Service Lead for IDVA (Independent domestic violence advisors), will also be attending to provide an overview of domestic violence within Southampton.

We want long-term solutions to tackle domestic abuse: to reduce the number of victims – we must challenge perpetrators to stop. – Respect UK, The Drive Project

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) report that only 21% of partner abuse is reported to the police and that domestic abuse forms 33% of all recorded assaults with an injury. Across Hampshire, domestic abuse currently accounts for 13% of all recorded crime, and in a report from 2016/17, it was noted that:

[in Southampton]the increase in domestic violence crime should be seen in the context of an increase in violent crime overall however domestic violent crimes are increasing at a higher rate than all violent crimes.

Click here to read the 2016/17 Southampton Safe City Strategic Assessment on Domestic and Sexual Abuse in the city.

The government’s funding cuts for police services and resources alongside the slowly increasing report and violent crime rates have meant that many people in the country and Southampton are left vulnerable and unsupported. Nationally, Respect UK’s Drive Project has claimed that for perpetrators of domestic abuse:

Only 1% of perpetrators get a specialist intervention that might prevent future abusive behaviour and as a result there is a high level of repeat victimisation.

Children who are exposed to witnessing domestic abuse or have been abused themselves are more likely to suffer from behavioural and emotional problems later in life, and the NSPCC reports that over 130,000 children live in high-risk domestic abuse households. Southampton currently provides MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) to act as a ‘front door for referrals about children’ involved in domestic and sexual abuse, including high-risk domestic abuse cases (MARAC). It is evident that a reduction and prevention of domestic abuse must be urgently done when also considering its impact children as well as intimate partners

This scrutiny inquiry will offer a chance for Southampton’s community to get involved in local government procedures and scrutiny and how they want to see domestic violence being tackled in their communities. Especially as this is a chance to intervene with the cause of domestic abuse cases and therefore also challenging the public narrative surrounding victim blaming and gendered-inequality. I highly encourage students to get involved in this, even if you are not planning to stay in Southampton after graduating. Your attendance, ideas and support could help create a better community for years to come.

We aim to change the public narrative from ‘why doesn’t she leave’ to ‘why doesn’t he stop?’ – Respect UK, The Drive Project

Other meetings, open to the public, will take place at the Civic Centre on the following dates:
• Thursday 21 February 2019 – 6.00 pm
• Thursday 7 March 2019 – 6.00 pm

The Terms of Reference and Agenda for the Scrutiny Inquiry can be found here (pg. 3-4).

If you want to know more about the inquiry contact Tabassum Rahman, Scrutiny and Democratic Services Intern, on 023 8083 3660 or tabassum.rahman@southampton.gov.uk or Mark Pirnie, Scrutiny Manager, on 023 8083 3886 or mark.pirnie@southampton.gov.uk.

If this topic affects you, you can reach out to support here:

  • Yellow Door, a local service provider for rape and domestic abuse response
  • Southampton’s Women’s Aid, a local service provider for domestic abuse response.
  • If you are worried about your behaviour, speak to Respect’s Phoneline on 0808 802 4040 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
  • Hampton Trust, the local service provider for domestic abuse perpetrator programmes which you can self-refer to.
  • Enabling Services, Drop-in 1-3pm Weekdays, Building 37.
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