of last Tuesday’s Joint Scrutiny Committee dealt with Domestic Abuse and Cabinet
Member Alex Sawyer kicked off with “an overview of the Domestic Abuse Service in Bexley”.
It had taken two years to produce and the focus was the recommissioning of the core service which has seen the transfer of the High Risk service to the Council and a proposal to develop a High Risk Abuse Strategy.
“The subject matter is too serious for there not to be a pan-Council approach of ideas. It is important that the Strategy has as its aim the desire to improve the situation of women and men who suffer from Domestic Violence. We have a roughly 90/10 [gender] split in the borough.”
The borough does not have the budget for a preventative programme but external funding will be sought.
Councillor Richard Diment (Conservative, Sidcup) drew attention to the significant under-reporting of DV in Bexley that had been estimated by an outside body. (Safe Lives.) “Could it be reduced?”
He went on to say that significant numbers of Bexley children are educated in other boroughs (and vice-versa) and believed a lack of cross-borough reporting might affect the statistics being collected. Deborah Simpson (Domestic Abuse & Sexual Violence Strategy Manager) confirmed that that was indeed a problem but one that was being addressed.
Councillor Sue Gower (Conservative, Bexleyheath) was also concerned about under-reporting and told of a case where an eight and a half months pregnant lady suffered a third assault in three months but the health services did not immediately recognise she was a victim.
Only when it reached “a flashpoint did she get any support”.
Deputy Director Toni Ainge said that “multi-agency training” was now in place to recognise problems at an early stage.
The police officer present said that last year every officer in the Met. had been given Domestic Abuse training. Perhaps because of that Bexley had seen a 13% increase in recorded Domestic Abuse.
Councillor Sybil Camsey (Conservative, Crook Log) said that schools have an important role to play in reporting Domestic Abuse. It was disappointing that only 50% of schools had signed up for DV reporting and she suggested that Governors be approached to remedy that.