Domestic violence: 142 at ‘high risk’ of abuse in East Devon county figures reveal

Domestic violence abuse numbers in Devon have risen by a quarter in the last four years, with East Devon figures ranking third with the highest risk.

That is what shocking figures, presented to Devon County Council last Thursday, show in response to a request for information about domestic violence in the county.

In the first six months of 2019, 3,704 victims of domestic abuse in the county had been referred to a specialist service.

A total of 142 were considered ‘high risk’ in East Devon.

The figures showed a 24 per cent increase than for the equivalent time frame in 2015, but also showed that a quarter of those seen were repeat victims and that 30 per cent the abuse continued.

Councillor Roger Croad, cabinet member for public health, said that the vile crime of domestic abuse was something that had largely been hidden by something the council needed to take seriously.

He had been asked by Councillor Rob Hannaford, leader of the Labour Group, for an update on the current service pressures, overall trends, numbers and gender balance of clients for those involved with the domestic violence services.

Cllr Croad’s report said: “A comparison from first six month of 2014/15 to the first six months of 2018/19 shows a 24 per cent rise in referrals to specialist domestic abuse support services.”

He said that the gender split in 2018/19 was 89 per cent female and 11 per cent were men.

The LEESAR (Listen, Engage, Empower Support, Advocate, Recover) Partnership were commissioned in 2017/18 to provide support to high and medium risk victims of domestic violence and abuse. The LEESAR Partnership comprises of; North Devon Against Domestic Violence and Abuse, Stop Abuse for Everyone, Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Service and is led by Splitz Domestic Abuse Service.

SafeLives collected and analysed the outcomes of those who had been supported by the service, and said that 70 per cent of clients experienced cessation of all abuse at exit compared to intake and 88 per cent of clients were no longer living with the perpetrator.

However, the report said that 25 per cent of clients were repeat victims, explaining this is largely because the repeats coming through are from those originally referred as medium risk, who do not engage or refuse a service and then come back into the service as at a higher risk level.

Cllr Croad added: “My worry is the 25 per cent repeat victims. It is a vile crime and something that is largely hidden and something we need to take seriously

“We recognise there is a hidden problem somewhere along the line and the really worrying thing is that 25 per cent of victims come back again and we need to shut that down.”

Cllr Claire Wright said that the figures showed the impact austerity and the abilities organisations were had to deal with domestic violence and abuse.

She said: “I have tried to help women in my ward whose lives have been a misery. The sooner we can get money into the police and the support networks, the better for women, as they really do suffer.”

Cllr Croad said that he agreed on the damage that austerity had done, saying: “A shortage of money makes people react in a violent and unnecessary manner.”

The figures showed that there was 1,048 people who were considered high risk domestic abuse victims, with a further 2,656 medium risk victims. The highest number was in Exeter, with a total of 631 people who had engaged in the service, with the North Devon and East Devon region also see over 500 referrals this year. Exeter also has nearly a quarter of the high risk victims, although there higher figures – more than 400 – for medium risk cases in East Devon, North Devon and the South Hams.

District ‘high risk’ totals:

  • East Devon 142
  • Mid Devon 135
  • Exeter 259
  • South Hams 62
  • West Devon 62
  • Teignbridge 123
  • North Devon 154
  • Torridge 111

Domestic abuse is a crime. There is help to support you, if you are a victim. Click here for non-judgemental support and advice. You CAN break free.

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