Domestic violence officers for East Riding of Yorkshire Council are gearing up for one of their busiest times of the year because of the fall-out from the Christmas holidays.
In January, officers on the domestic violence team dealt with 192 new cases compared with 159 in September. The good news is that the number of cases dealt with by the team has dropped. In the 11 months from January to the end of November, the team dealt with 1,939 cases compared with 2,299 for the same 11 months last year.
Councillor Jackie Cracknell, the council’s portfolio holder for community involvement and performance, said: “The team works with victims of domestic violence, both men and women, and children. They also work with the perpetrators to help them deal with their behaviour.
“It is an area of work that many people do not associate with the council but it is one which receives recognition for the quality of the team’s work and the wide scope of what they do to protect people and help families.”
Cases are referred to the team by other services such as the police, probation, Children’s Social Care, schools, the council’s customer service centres, as well as by those who refer themselves.
Domestic violence covers a range of behaviour including punching, kicking, strangulation, sexual and emotional abuse, and use of threats and intimidation. It can involve adult partners and older teens against parents.
Paul Bellotti, the council’s head of housing, transportation and public protection, said: “The services we provide range from one-to-one support for someone in greater need of help, for example where they are at risk. This can include a personal safety plan and assistance with legal options, such as non-molestation orders.
“For those victims at highest risk, the council and its partners operate together to look at ways of making their life safer, such as fitting additional home security or working with the fire service on arson risk.
“For other groups we run 12-week workshops in centres like Beverley, Bridlington and Goole. These focus on healthy relationships and are designed to prevent people from returning to, or beginning, new violent relationships.”
Working with children and young people is a big part of the team’s work including offering awareness workshops for 15 to 16-year-olds in East Riding schools.
Currently workshops are being held in Bridlington School Sports College, Headlands School, Cottingham High School and Beverley High School. They have been held in South Holderness School, Beverley Grammar School, Goole High School, Snaith High School and Hessle High School. More schools will be offered the course next year (2014).
Local volunteers, trained by the team, also play a part in helping victims with a befriending service. This vital assistance helps those who have had to relocate become part of their local community, or simply by assisting them to make new friends.
Mr Bellotti said: “The team’s work doesn’t just stop at supporting those harmed by domestic violence but it also carries evaluations to ensure the services provided continue to provide solutions in this difficult area.
“At the moment the team is doing its own two-year study into the effects of drugs and alcohol. While national studies suggest that substance misuse is not a primary cause of domestic violence, it can be used by offenders to control victims and instil fear.”
The results of studies like this determine what further services may be required to ensure the fullest support continues to be available to in the most difficult of times.