Kent County Council (KCC) has welcomed the government’s landmark Domestic Abuse Act which gives victims and survivors of domestic abuse and their children greater protections under law.
The new Act means that councils across England will have the legal duty to support adults and victims fleeing their homes in safe accommodation and supports access to essential support services such as counselling or therapy services to both adults fleeing and their children.
Since 2017 Kent County Council has worked with Partners to commission the Kent Integrated Domestic Abuse Contract (KIDAS) which provides help for survivors across both community and accommodation-based support and continues to work with partners to build, develop and maximise the support available to those experiencing abuse.
This work is taking place across the partnership which includes District Councils, Medway Council, Kent Fire and Rescue, Kent Police, The Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, NHS, districts and the National Probation Service and supports the Kent and Medway Domestic Abuse Strategy.
Domestic abuse affects over 2 million people a year in England and Wales, which equates to 75,000 to 80,000 adults in Kent and Medway, and makes up 15% of all crime across the region. The Act defines the multiple and varying ways domestic abuse can be committed by perpetrators, and is inclusive of controlling and coercive behaviour, financial abuse, and emotional abuse.
For the first time, the Act recognises that children are themselves victims of the abuse – and not just a ‘witness’ to this crime.
Domestic abuse does not discriminate – it is a far-reaching, pervasive issue that anyone can be a victim of – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity sexuality and background, and has lifelong consequences.
The Covid-19 pandemic has escalated the risk for victims, with Kent Police recording a 13% rise in domestic abuse related crime reports between March and November 2020, compared to the previous year, and Kent domestic abuse services have seen an increase in referrals.
The ‘Know, See, Speak Out’ awareness campaign led by Kent County Council and involving all partners encourages residents, businesses, and community groups to become informed about the crime, to regularly check in with friends, family, and colleagues even with lockdown restrictions lifting, and to understand where to signpost people to safety when needed. Victims’ lives depend on the ability to connect with routes to safety.
Clair Bell, KCC Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Public Health said: “Domestic abuse continues to be a challenge within our communities, often going unnoticed and unreported.
“As a council we have been working very closely with our partners to raise awareness and ensure our services are aligned to tackle this and provide the best support available to survivors.
“I welcome the passing of the government’s Domestic Abuse Act which, for the first time in history, provides a wide-ranging legal definition of abuses beyond physical violence and recognises children as victims. The Act also provides for stronger measures to tackle perpetrators ensuring that they will feel the full force of the law.
“Domestic abuse is a scourge but with the backing of this vital new legislation we will continue our strong efforts with our partners in Kent to further confront and reduce this dreadful crime.”
To access specialist Domestic Abuse support through KIDAS please call Victim Support 0808 168 9111 or visit https://www.domesticabuseservices.org.uk/, where you can also find information, resources and training webinars.
In an emergency, call the police on 999 (if you can’t speak, cough or tap the handset then press 55 on your phone – the police will know it’s an emergency).
Over 2 million people a year in England and Wales experience domestic abuse (Office for National Statistics)
This devastating social issue will affect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime, with 2 women a week being murdered by their current or ex-partner (Office for National Statistics)
In 2017, 26,149 incidents of domestic abuse were recorded by the Police in Kent and Medway, with current trends showing that 38% of all violent crime here is categorised as domestic abuse and that domestic abuse makes up 15% of all crime. (The Kent and Medway Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Executive Strategic Assessment 2019, and 2017 data)
Kent Police saw a 13% increase in Domestic Abuse related crime reports from March to November 2020, compared to 2019 (Kent Police incident case reports March to November 2020) and our domestic abuse services have seen an increase in referrals
In England and Wales £1.9 billion a year is lost in economic output due to domestic abuse (Walby, 2009)
Domestic Violence incidents account for almost 25% of all reported violent crime, with UK Police receiving a call for assistance once every minute. Domestic violence results in the death of 2 women per week (Office National Statistics, 2019)
In the UK, in any one year, more than 20% of employed women take time off work because of domestic violence, and 2% lose their jobs as a direct result of the abuse (The Equality and Human Rights Commission)
One in seven (14.2%) children and young people under the age of 18 will have lived with domestic violence at some point in their childhood (Radford et al, NSPCC report, 2011)