Another successful year for team fighting domestic violence in Devon

domestic violence

Posted on: 9 June 2016

Devon’s campaign against domestic violence and abuse has made significant progress over the past year. But, says the Devon-based Splitz Devon Domestic Abuse Support Service (DDASS), the battle is far from won.

“We constantly need to review what and how we do things in order to meet the challenges ahead,” said Devon Service Manager, Chrissy Stower. “We are a long way from ending domestic abuse in Devon.”

Figures released by the service show that high and medium-risk referrals rose by 9.5% from 2,468 in 2014/15 to 2,729 in 2015/16. Over the two years, support has also been provided for 542 children who have witnessed domestic violence. Feedback from medium and high risk service users shows a 99% reduction in physical abuse on exiting from support. Some 96% said they felt safer, while 97% said they had a better quality of life.

“We can be proud of what we have achieved but we certainly can’t be complacent,” said Chrissy Stower.

“Domestic abuse is one of the great hidden scourges of our society and it is as big a problem here in Devon as anywhere else. We are continually committed to improving our services to families suffering from domestic abuse.

“We have recently undergone a restructure as a result of surveys commissioned by Devon County Council’s Public Health team, which identified that sufferers of domestic abuse want to work with one key worker, regardless of their risk level, rather than the old system that meant they were moved between workers. We have a dedicated and very talented team of workers and I am proud of the fantastic results that they have achieved this year, but we couldn’t have achieved it on our own – our partnerships with other agencies are vital to our work.”

As part of the recent changes, DDASS has introduced a new safeguarding team, which will work closely with other children’s services to ensure that young people who have suffered as a result of domestic abuse received the right support.

Benchmarked against other similar organisations nationally, the service contracted to Devon County Council consistently performs better than the national average (source SafeLives Insights) and has made further advances on what were already excellent results in the previous year.

The Devon team has enjoyed particular success in getting its domestic violence message out to hard to reach groups such as black and minority ethnic groups and lesbian, gay and bisexual groups.

Other highlights from its newly released statistics include:

  • An increasing number of older people using its services with a 4% rise in medium and high-risk cases
  • Increased numbers of individuals from black and minority ethnic groups and lesbian, gay and bisexual groups accessing the services (the latter has doubled over the year)
  • The number of male victims of domestic violence and abuse coming forward has remained steady.

Cllr Andrea Davis, Devon County Council’s lead member for domestic violence said: “Since taking on the contract for domestic violence support services, DDASS has made considerable improvements to the service such as the introduction of key workers; and has worked very closely with partners including police and local support organisations to ensure support better reflects the needs of people who are affected by domestic violence.

“We’re really pleased with its progress, and with the way in which so many organisations across the county are prioritising this agenda, and making real inroads towards ending domestic violence and abuse .”

Working in close partnership with the police and local commissioners has resulted in a dramatic rise in the number of successful cases coming to court. There was a 16% rise in the number of charges brought against perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse. Of those proceeding to court, there was a 23% rise in the number of successful prosecutions.

Adult support is provided by Combined Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (CIDVAs) for victims at high risk or with complex needs across the Devon County Council local authority area, and by Domestic Abuse Support Advisors (DASAs) for victims deemed medium risk. Advice is given on issues ranging from personal safety through to housing and the courts process. Workers also provide emotional support and advise on referrals to other agencies.

The service’s telephone helpline has a team of three working 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Helpline workers handle self-referrals, process agency referrals and give advice and guidance for anyone who does not want, or does not qualify for, ongoing support.

Perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse also come within the scope of the current service via a voluntary programme. Run over 25-weeks, the programme addresses issues of physical, sexual and emotional respect; raises awareness of the impact of domestic abuse? on children; and provides guidance on rebuilding trust.

Anyone being subjected to domestic abuse can call the Splitz Devon Domestic Abuse Support Service on 0345 155 1074 or visit the website.

Posted in: Health and Wellbeing