Update on Wednesday, October 21: Wealden Council has decided to apply for the White Ribbon Award to show its support for a campaign against domestic abuse and violence against women and girls.
Our original story: An increasing number of domestic abuse crimes and incidents are being recorded in Wealden and the district council is being recommended to give a public commitment towards tackling the problem.
The council is considering applying for the White Ribbon Award to show its support for a campaign against domestic abuse and violence against women and girls.
The number of domestic abuse crimes in Wealden has risen to 532 in 2014/15 from 325 in 2013/4 and 314 in 2012/13.
The 2014/15 figure compares with 943 in Hastings, 755 in Eastbourne, 464 in Rother and 449 in Lewes.
Domestic abuse incidents in Wealden reached 742 in 2014/15 rising from 690 in 2013/14 and 624 in 2012/13.
The 2014 figure compares with 1468 in Hastings, 1128 in Eastbourne, 704 in Lewes and 694 in Rother.
A report to the council’s cabinet which meets on Wednesday, October 21, says the steady increase in reporting could be seen as positive because traditionally domestic abuse is under-reported. On the other hand it says “it is clearly a major problem which needs addressing”.
The report says: “Many victims find that removing themselves from the violence or abuse isn’t straight forward due to a number of emotional reasons ranging from love to terror. There are also practical reasons such as fear of losing access to their children, homes or their possessions.”
Cabinet is recommended to make an application for the council to gain the White Ribbon Award shwoing a commitment to:
- In particular, involving men and boys in prevention activities and encouraging them to promote a change of attitude, using their voice to make a stand and raise awareness, (the bias towards males leading the campaign is because the majority of domestic violence is perpetrated by males);
- Addressing and altering social norms that leads to violent behaviour against women and girls;
- Increasing awareness on the issue and providing services aimed at reducing the incidence of domestic violence; and
- Mobilise the entire local community under the goal of ending violence against women and girls.
The council would have to create a draft action plan, including such measures as awareness training of front-line staff and using the council’s communication networks to raise awareness of the issue and the help available for people.
The report quotes a cross-Government definition of domestic violence and abuse which was published in 2012 which reads as follows:
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:
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, which is not a legal 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