Director of Public Health Annual Report 2021: Domestic Violence and Abuse
This year my Director of Public Health Annual Report focuses on domestic violence and abuse.
1 in 20 adults are estimated to experience domestic abuse every year, equating to almost 21,000 people a year in Buckinghamshire or 57 people every day. Women are more commonly victims of domestic abuse than men but it can happen to anyone, at any age, across all gender identities, ethnic groups and walks of life.
Domestic abuse is a crime often hidden from view, at home and out of sight. It often goes unreported as victims and witnesses, such as children in the family, may not report abuse for many different reasons. Surveys suggest fewer than 1 in 5 women experiencing domestic abuse report it to police. On average it takes 3 years for victims of domestic abuse to access support services.
Domestic abuse has a profound impact on victims and survivors, their family and wider society. Domestic abuse causes poor physical and mental health both in the short and long term and in extreme cases death. There are also serious consequences for children in the household witnessing domestic abuse with impacts on their mental and physical health, safety and educational attainment. Domestic abuse also contributes significantly to homelessness and increases the risk of poverty for victims and their children. The Home Office estimates that the economic and social costs of domestic abuse are over £66 billion in England and Wales.
The prevalence of domestic abuse was vividly highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic. During and following the first lockdown, data up to January 2021 showed a 15% increase in domestic abuse crimes reported to police for Buckinghamshire with a 13% increase in known victims and perpetrators. Service data showed an increase in demand for domestic abuse support services.
Ending domestic abuse is everyone’s business and requires a coordinated response from national government, local partners and the public.
This report is informed by a needs assessment undertaken by Buckinghamshire Council, views from victims and service users, frontline professionals and organisations in Buckinghamshire.
This report covers some key areas including how to recognise signs of domestic abuse and where to get help, who may be at greater risk of experiencing domestic abuse and when, including research on the warning signs leading up to domestic homicides. It also covers what is known about interventions that contribute to reducing the risk and harms of domestic abuse and the need for more work to focus on preventing perpetrators from committing domestic abuse.
The Domestic Abuse Bill 2021 was recently passed in April and will also inform local actions. My report makes recommendations based on our local situation for a range of partners in Buckinghamshire to implement
Finally I would like to thank all those who participated in the needs assessment and in compiling this report especially those who allowed us to reflect their views and personal stories. I hope that the coming years will see us make very significant progress in reducing domestic abuse in Buckinghamshire and offering effective support to all those affected.
Dr Jane O’Grady