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To my mind the most important aspect of last Wednesday’s People Scrutiny meeting not yet
reported here concerned Domestic Violence.
The Police Commander touched on the
subject but the Agenda devoted a dozen pages to it exclusively. The statistics
have not been improving. “It is a serious issue for Bexley and it is the reason
for many of the referrals of children to social care.” Bexley Council has been
reviewing its procedures with the help of Kensington & Chelsea Council which has
a very good reputation in the field. The methodology adopted was the same as if
it had been an OFSTED inspection.
Councillor Christine Bishop (Conservative, Crayford) spoke up for male victims. How many, how often, how many refuges?
The reply.“There are males who are victims of domestic abuse and there are males who make ccounter-allegations. There are also same sex [male?] victims. There are no male safe refuges.” Bexley females in need of a refuge are always placed outside of the borough.
“Working with male victims of domestic abuse is very challenging” and the training programme is being reviewed.
The meeting also briefly dealt with the mental health of children. Councillor Sybil Camsey (Conservative, Brampton) expressed some concerns about the present situation in Bexley; she was “disappointed” with it. I am not surprised, the ladies that have in recent months taken over all aspects of child care in Bexley are a singularly unimpressive lot. I might except Ms. Tiotto (far left in the picture) but generally the replacements for Sheila Murphy (Child Care) and Moyra Pickering (Education) either don’t know answers or admit to guessing them; “speculating”. They have made such an impression that I cannot even tell you their names!
Some of Bexley’s ladies do give the impression of being totally on top of their briefs, Jane Richardson (Regeneration), Alison Griffin (Finance) and a little lower down the food chain, Tiffany Lynch, (Infrastructure).
Somehow or other a number of interesting facts that came to light at the meeting or in the Agenda have not been mentioned so far, so in no particular order
•Bexley Council has bought 75 properties for use as temporary accommodation in the past three years, most of them, 63, in the past twelve months. They cost more than £20 million. 52 more such transactions are in progress right now. Another £14 million.
•The number of households in temporary accommodation has doubled since April 2013.
• Bexley is in the lower mid range among London boroughs for domestic abuse, 20th out of 32 with 15 cases per 1,000 population. Richmond is lowest at ten per 1,000, while Barking & Dagenham is almost twice as bad at 28 per 1,000.
• Domestic violence represents 13% of crime in Bexley (latest figures are a year old) and 26% of victims are male.
• 19% of Bexleys children are classified as living in poverty and the figure is getting steadily worse.
• 36% of pupils in Bexley schools are from ethnic minorities.
• 22·5% of Bexley’s ten to eleven years olds are classified as obese.
• Substance abuse in Bexley is worse than the English average. Alcohol abuse is better.