Buckinghamshire Domestic Violence and Abuse Strategy 2021 to 2024

Last updated: 5 January 2022 Download the strategy (pdf, 1.2 MB)

2. Being evidence based

This strategy has been informed by listening to the voices of survivors of domestic abuse, children and young people as well as professionals.


  • Accessible information about services (languages and formats)
  • Targeted communications
  • Effective signposting
  • Simplified referral pathways for the whole family
  • Refuges that meet specific cultural needs
  • Increased support in finding safe alternative accommodation

Children and young people:

  • To be safe and feel safe
  • To feel heard
  • Range of tailored support
  • Peer support - for children to be able to talk to others their age who are going through the same thing
  • Children and young people as victims
  • Young people/young adults as direct victims


  • Tailored services
  • A ‘one stop shop’
  • Wider promotion of what is available
  • Development of pathways and rapid response services
  • Regular training for frontline staff
  • Support to recognise an abusive relationship
  • Safe space to disclose
  • Improved offer of housing solutions
  • Post-abuse support
  • Accessible perpetrator programmes that bring meaningful change

Particular thanks go to:

  • Thames Valley Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) Project for focus group discussions.
  • Children’s Services colleagues for support on hearing children’s and young people’s voices.
  • Sue Moulder and Heather Darker for interviewing 76 professionals including health, police, probation, education, adult and children’s social care and housing.
  • Dr Jane O’Grady, Buckinghamshire Council’s Director of Public Health, for her Annual Report 2021 and recommendations (along with the Public Health team) for the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA).
  • Business Insight and Intelligence team for supporting the refresh of the needs assessment.
  • All members of the Shadow Buckinghamshire Domestic Abuse Board for their insight and ideas in shaping our work towards the new duties.

National Context

Domestic abuse is committed against someone to exert power and control over them. It can be committed by a current or former partner, or family member, and disproportionately affects women.

Abuse could be sexual, emotional, and economic abuse, or psychological abuse and coercive behaviour, all of which may or may not be accompanied by physical violence.

  • 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6 men, experience domestic abuse in their lifetime
  • 87 Clare's Law applications in Buckinghamshire (2020/21)
  • In almost 50% of domestic abuse crimes the perpetrator was an ex-partner
  • Domestic abuse affects up to 80% of trans people (Galop UK)
  • 1 in 5 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to the police (2019)
  • 2 women per week, 12 men per year, are killed by a partner or ex-partner (on average)
  • A little more than a fifth of incidents reported (22.5%) led to an arrest
  • 1 in 7 disabled people experienced domestic abuse in the last 12 months (ONS) compared with 1 in 20 non-disabled people

Domestic abuse is often a ‘hidden’ issue which presents challenges to understanding the full extent of the subject. Although statistics are helpful in giving an indication of how far- reaching domestic abuse is, reported statistics will be much lower than actual abuse levels, and estimates may mask under-reporting within certain minority ethnic groups and other minoritised communities, as well as mask significant barriers for victims to reach out for help.

It is estimated that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) community may experience domestic abuse 1.6 times more frequently than the Cisgender and Heterosexual community.

Understanding the prevalence of domestic abuse and recognising the devastation it can cause on both an individual and their family as well as for the economy, the government has responded by publishing a new Domestic Abuse Bill and appointing a Domestic Abuse Commissioner.

Other current legislation includes the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, also known as ‘Clare’s Law.’ This is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered in 2009 by her ex-partner who had an undisclosed history of violence against women. The scheme gives members of the public a formal mechanism to enquire about the information the police hold on a person in relation to domestic abuse offences and convictions (The Right to Ask), as well as giving police the power to disclose information to a member of the public to prevent a crime from happening (The Right to Know).

Local Context

Domestic abuse is prevalent in all communities and all areas of our county. Approximately 21,000 adults in Buckinghamshire will experience domestic abuse each year; that’s 57 people EVERY DAY.

There are disproportionately more female victims (71%) than male (29%) with over half of all victims (56%) being aged between 18 and 40 years of age.

There are 544,000 people living in Buckinghamshire, with an estimated 21,000 incidences of domestic violence and abuse occurring each year within the county.

6,132 people in Buckinghamshire directly reported domestic incidents to the police in 2020/21. The Thames Valley Police recorded over 10,500 occurrences relating to domestic abuse in that time. This shows that domestic abuse is chronically under-reported, and that a significant number of disclosures are from third parties rather than the victims.

Police records show 3,212 recorded domestic abuse perpetrators in 2020/21, this demonstrates that there are a significant number of repeat victims of domestic abuse who are being victimised by the same perpetrators.

Of these 10,500 incidents, nearly half (5,047) recorded children being present. In Buckinghamshire it is estimated that 21,800 children and young people may be living with a perpetrator of domestic abuse, with children and young people now classified as victims under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

In 2020-2021 there were 2,443 referrals to Children’s Social Care in Buckinghamshire with domestic abuse as a factor and 1,446 Early Help Family Support referrals. Whilst the above data example does not reflect actual numbers of children and young people impacted, in relation to incident statistics it illustrates a significant shortfall in specialist support provision currently available for children and young people outside of Refuge accommodation.

Domestic abuse can sometimes, extremely tragically, result in death. Between 2011 and 2020, there were 15 domestic homicide reviews in Buckinghamshire and 39 across the Thames Valley area. In these reviews it was found that 4 of the victims had taken their own life by suicide. This coincides with statistics that 16% of people experiencing domestic abuse consider or attempt suicide and 13% self harm.

  • In 2020/21, TVP recorded 6,132 individual victims of domestic abuse in Buckinghamshire. 4,240 (71%) women, 1,778 (29%) men
  • In 2020/21 69 women and 89 children lived in refuge in Buckinghamshire.
    In 2019/20 there were 278 referrals, 96 referrals were accommodated including 255 children
  • 5,047 DVA flagged incidents recorded as involving children in Buckinghamshire (2020/21)
  • 531 new referrals to Women's Aid
  • 1,079 clients received IDVA safety planning support in 2020/21
  • 1,496 Early Help Family Support referrals in Buckinghamshire 2020/21, related to domestic abuse
  • 25% repeat perpetrator rate in Buckinghamshire in 2020/21
  • 1 Domestic Homicide Review completed during 2020/21. 15 DHRs have been commissioned since 2011 in Buckinghamshire
  • Thames Valley Police recorded 10,635 incidents of domestic abuse from April 2020 to March 2021 in Buckinghamshire

Emerging needs

Domestic abuse is multifaceted and will require a multidimensional approach to tackle it.

We need to consider our approach to violence against women and girls, whilst also understanding the complexity of domestic abuse and the different and evolving types of abuse and offences within it. These include sexual abuse and violence, emotional abuse, economic abuse, tech abuse, psychological abuse and coercive behaviour, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and ‘honour based’ violence, as well as emerging issues around digital abuse and social media abuse (with offences such as stalking, harassment, hacking, malicious communications and revenge porn) and identity abuse in the LGBT+ Community.

We also need to understand that domestic abuse affects all ages, all gender identities and all levels of society and cultures, including those with physical or learning disabilities, those relying on care and support (for example those suffering with dementia or those in residential or community care) older adults and even professionals within our own local government authority services.

This strategy takes evidence from:

  • A refreshed needs assessment.
  • The recommendations within the Director of Public Health annual report.
  • Lessons learnt from over 15 Domestic Homicide Reviews.
  • Feedback from engagement sessions.
  • National and local data.
  • Best practice examples.
  • We have identified several emerging needs in Buckinghamshire.
  • Overly complicated referral pathways.
  • Inconsistency or misdirection of referrals.
  • A lack of appropriate provision for LGBT+ people, male victims and people from minority
    ethnic groups or other minoritised communities.
  • Need for accessible and effective perpetrator programmes.
  • Capacity of Safe and Relevant Accommodation.

The Domestic Abuse Bill was signed into law on 29 April 2021 and is set to provide further protections to the millions of people who experience domestic abuse, as well as strengthen measures to tackle perpetrators. From this the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) secured £125 million to cover the cost of new duties placed upon local authorities.

Buckinghamshire has received £850,000 from the government for specific elements of the statutory duties. This, along with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s commitment, provides an opportunity for a review and reset of our current work plans and commissioning activity as well as an opportunity to accelerate our domestic abuse work, focussing on new, class leading and innovated cross-agency collaboration, putting those we support at the very heart of what we do.

Who is at greater risk of suffering Domestic Abuse?

Tools such as the DASH risk checklist (Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment and Honour Based Violence) help trained health and social care professionals and the police to assess the risk level of domestic abuse victims.

The checklist identifies vulnerabilities such as mental ill health, financial dependency and disability. High and medium risk victims receive support from independent domestic violence advisors (IDVA), and may be referred to a multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC). Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, anywhere, any time, however we know that some people are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse due to their unique characteristics or vulnerabilities.


Around 14% of disabled adults experienced domestic abuse, compared with 5% of adults without disabilities in 2018 to 2019. Disabled men are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse compared to non-disabled men. Disabled women are more than twice as likely compared to non-disabled women (17% and 7%). National and local data suggest that either disability is not recorded by services, or that disabled victims are not accessing them.

Learning disability

National data suggests that 1 in 5 (19%) people with a learning disability experienced domestic abuse of some kind in the last year (2019 to 2020).

Mental ill health

Domestic abuse and mental ill health are commonly associated. Research suggests that women with mental health problems are 3 times more likely to experience domestic abuse, and women experiencing domestic abuse are 3 times more likely to develop mental health problems.

Women experiencing domestic abuse are three times more likely to develop mental health problems.

Older people

Older people are affected by domestic abuse. Police data for Buckinghamshire in 2019 to 2020 showed that 9% of victims of known age were 61 years or older. However this age group only made up 4.5% of IDVA service users in the same year. Older people may be more vulnerable to coercive control (including economic abuse) given their dependence on family and carers as they age. They may be unwilling or unable to disclose, recognise or leave abusive relationships due to age-related conditions such as dementia.


Ethnicity is not well recorded in relation to domestic abuse. Recent Police data shows that in Buckinghamshire, in 70% of cases the victim’s ethnicity was not recorded. Domestic abuse is also commonly under-reported in ethnic minorities. Although domestic abuse is experienced by people from all ethnic origins, cultural values and norms can affect people’s perceptions of and responses to domestic abuse. For people from some ethnic minority backgrounds, these may include fear (of not being believed, of being exposed, of the criminal justice system), victim-blaming culture, and failure to recognise abuse. Honour and shame are highly important concepts in certain cultures, and the consequences of dishonouring family or community by disclosing abuse are significant.

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities

There are limited data around domestic abuse in the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. However, as in other communities, community members and workers have noted domestic abuse as a serious and long-standing problem. The domestic abuse charity One Voice 4 Travellers estimated as many as 3 in 4 women from these communities experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives.

Sexual orientation and gender identity

National statistics do not report domestic abuse by sexual orientation or gender identity. However, studies suggest that between 25% and 40% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people report one or more domestic abuse incidents in their lifetime. This rises to between 28% and 80% for trans people.

An NSPCC survey in UK schools suggested that 44% of teenagers with same-sex partners had experienced some form of physical partner violence, increased from 20% for those in heterosexual relationships.

Domestic abuse victims identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or another definition
of their sexuality or gender identity are known to present with higher levels of risk and complex needs compared to non-LGBT+ people, such as mental health problems, self-harm and drug and alcohol misuse. They also face unique issues such as being victim to threats of ‘outing’ about sexual orientation and gender identity; and ‘identity abuse’ which may include withholding of medication or clothing relating to their sexual or gender identity.