The UK government defines domestic abuse
“Any incident or pattern of incidents of
controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse
between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate
partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The
abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical,
sexual, financial, and/or emotional.”
This definition includes so called ‘honour’
based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced
marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender
or ethnic group.
In September 2012 it was announced that the
definition of domestic abuse would change to include victims aged
16 – 18 years. The aim of this was to increase awareness that young
people can be the victims of this type of offence. This new
definition was implemented in April 2013.
Domestic abuse is widely acknowledged as being under
reported which affects the reliability and interpretation of data.
Research shows that whilst female victims are likely to suffer more
violent and repeated abuse, male victims less likely to report the
domestic abuse that they are suffering.
Bedford Borough Community Safety Partnership
(CSP) is a joint partnership between Bedford Borough Council,
Bedfordshire Police, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, The
National Probation Service, BeNCH Community Rehabilitation
Company and Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group who work
together to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour that affect our
communities. These agencies have a duty to come together and
work with other groups, organisations and agencies to prevent crime
and disorder. The CSP was formed in response to the Crime and
Disorder Act 1998 as a statutory requirement.
The Act also requires each CSP Strategy Group
of Responsible Authorities to produce an annual Crime and Disorder
Strategic Assessment to identify key crime and disorder issues that
affect Bedford Borough.
A CSP Strategic Assessment was carried out in
September 2016. Domestic Abuse (DA) was identified as one of five
emerging themes, evidenced by reporting levels to the police and
referrals into services such as the MARAC (Multi Agency Risk
Assessment Conference) and the IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence
Advisor) service. This is a continuation from the previous year’s
assessment and DA has been adopted as a CSP priority within the new
CSP plan 2017-20.
Links to the current CSP Strategic Assessment
and CSP plan can be found at the end of this chapter.
Domestic Abuse is a cross cutting priority on
a number of Bedford partnership strategic boards including Adult
and Children Safeguarding groups and the Community Safety
Partnership where governance arrangements exist to reduce the
likelihood of a domestic homicide and harm to victims. There are
domestic abuse partnership arrangements that span Bedford Borough
and Central Bedfordshire Council and there are informal links with
Facts, Figures and Trends
- CSEW estimated in 2014/15 for a thematic review,
that 8.2% of women and 4.5% of men experienced Domestic Abuse in
the last year.
- Based upon CSEW estimates
and using the ONS 2014 population estimates for the Borough, it
would suggest that each year more than 5,530 women and 2,760 men
would be a victim of Domestic Abuse. This represents a level of
under reporting in excess of 60%.
- Government estimates are that
more than 1 in 4 women will be victims of Domestic Abuse in their
It is important to remember that Domestic
Abuse is not one, easily definable offence but can be a collection
In the period April 2015 – March 2016
Bedfordshire Police recorded 3,213 Domestic Abuse incidents in
Bedford Borough, an average of more than 61 incidents a week. This
is an increase of 151 incidents on the previous year. 41.8% of
Domestic Abuse incidents were recorded as Domestic Abuse crimes,
1344 in total for the year; this is an increase of 11.3% (136
offences) from the previous year.
- 10.5% of all Domestic Abuse crime
and incidents recorded in the 12 months were scored as high risk;
this is a reduction from the previous year of 13.9%.
- 68.8% of all Domestic Abuse crimes
and incidents recorded in the 12 months were scored as medium risk;
this is an increase on the previous year of 66.3%
- 36.2% of reported Domestic Abuse
for the period identified a repeat victims; this is an increase
from the previous year’s figure of 35.1% (slightly below that of
- 66.4% of the Domestic Abuse crimes
reported to the police resulted in an arrest; this is a reduction
on the previous year’s figure of 76.2%.
Levels of reporting in domestic abuse crimes have been steadily
increasing over the last three strategic years. The need to
increase the number of domestic abuse reports was identified in the
2014-17 CSP plan and so this pattern can be considered positive. It
may indicate that there are increasing levels of confidence in the
services that support victims.
The trend line suggests that levels of
reporting will continue to rise over the next performance year, but
not necessarily at the same rates as has been seen in earlier
years. The recorded rates of increase are not equal across all
There appears to be some seasonal pattern to
recorded offences, with slightly higher levels in the warmer summer
months and around Christmas.
Numbers of reports Crimes and Incidents are higher
in the afternoons and evening. This pattern is consistent
throughout the week. Levels of reporting peak at the weekends
particularly the evenings through to early mornings.
- According to all DA crimes and Incidents
reported to the Police between Apr 2015 and Mar 2016, 77.5% of
victims were female, this is a continued reduction from the last 2
The rate of increase in male victims is
particularly positive as national Crime Survey data suggests that
the levels of underreporting amongst male victims is considerably
higher than female victims.
- The average age of a victim, where
known, was 36 years this is a slight reduction the previous year
- The greatest proportion of victims
(15.6%) were aged 26-30 years, (31-35yrs in 2014-15).
- The age groups that recorded the
fastest rate of increase were; 16-20yrs (+63.4%) and 61-65yrs
- 32 victims were aged between
16-17yrs at the time of the offence, this is a significant increase
from the previous year of 2.
The greatest proportion of victims are white
North European (74.2%) followed by Asian (14.3%) and black
(10%). These figures are broadly consistent with the previous
two years. The proportion of BME victims has been gradually
increasing over the three year period representing 25.8% of all
recorded victims in the most recent year. Whilst this increase is
encouraging there is still an under representation of BME victims
when compared to the 2011 Census data for the Borough that reported
28.5% of the Borough’s population being from a BME group, with the
exception of black victims (According to the 2011 Census data only
4% of the Borough’s population are black).
When both Age and Ethnicity are looked at
together it is clear that the increase in reporting of BME Victims
is in the younger age groups, 16-35yrs.
- 8.06% of Victims were classified as
being under the influence of Drink or Drugs at the time of the
offence, this compares to just 2.99% of victims across all crime
- 27.17% of all Victims were
classified as vulnerable; this compares to 23.83% of victims across
all crime categories.
- The most significant increase in
vulnerability is in the area of mental health where a 129.5%
increase has been recorded amongst DA victims; 44 victims in
2013-14 to 101 victims in 2015-16.
High Risk Victims
Victims that score 14+ on the DASH Risk
Indicator Checklist (RIC) are considered to be High Risk. Between
Apr 2015 and Mar 2016 10.5% of all Domestic Abuse crimes and
incidents reported to the police were deemed to be High Risk. The
demographic of this group differs to that of the overall victim
- 95.5% of High Risk Victims are
- 79% of High Risk Victims are
- High Risk Victims are younger – the
greatest proportion are aged 21-25
- 53.4% of High Risk Crimes and
Incidents are committed by an Ex-spouse or partner
- 73.4% of all High Risk victims are
classified as vulnerable
According to all DA crimes and Incidents
reported to the Police between Apr 2015 and Mar 2016, 80% of
offenders were male, this is a continued reduction from the last 2
- The average age of an offender,
where known, was 35 years this is a slight reduction the previous
- The greatest proportion of
offenders (17.5%) were aged 26-30 years, this is consistent with
the previous 2 years.
- The age groups that recorded the
most significant increases were 16-20 years (+66) and 21-25 years
- 45 offenders were aged under 18yrs at the
time of the offence, this is a significant increase from the
previous year of 8.
In the period Apr 2015 – Mar 2016, 81.5% of
all recorded DA was recorded in Urban Wards of the Borough. This is
consistent with the previous year.
Ward Name - Top 5
Five urban wards contribute 59.6% of all
reported DA within the Borough. These are consistent with last
Four of these wards include areas identified
in the 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation as being amongst the 10%
most deprived in England. (Castle, Cauldwell, Kingsbrook and
The relationship between High levels of DA and
deprivation is consistent with previous CSP assessments.
These five wards are also consistent with high
levels of unemployment. They are the top 5 wards in the Borough for
those claiming Job Seekers Allowance for over 12 months according
to the Department for Work and Pensions – Oct 2015.
National and local evidence (best
- Bedfordshire Domestic Violence Partnership
- Data: Bedfordshire Police Performance
- Home Office: Cross Government definition of
Domestic Violence, a Consultation, December 2011
- National Crime Survey
- HM Government Call to End Violence Against
Women and Girls 2011-2015
Current activities and services
Key services and current activities
(a) Independent Domestic Violence
Advisor (IDVA) Service
The IDVA service provides specialist
short-term crisis intervention and safety planning for the highest
risk victims of domestic abuse. IDVAs receive accredited training
which provides them with a full knowledge of both criminal and
civil court processes, interventions and proceedings in order to
support clients at court if needed. This is a Shared Service for
Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire.
The IDVA service within Bedford Borough received 221
referrals from the period Apr 15 – Mar 16; this was as slight
reduction of 8 on the previous year. The greatest proportion of
referrals (61.5%) came from Bedfordshire Police, whilst 7.2% of
clients self-referred. A positive increase in referrals from Health
agencies was recorded with 16 referral in the year compared to only
1 in the previous year
- 14.5% of clients were re housed or
the abuser was evicted, this is a significant increase from the
previous year’s figure of 7%.
- 27.6% of clients completed a
pattern changing course, this is an increase from the previous
year’s figure of 22.3%
- 16.7% of clients were supported to
access health services (inc mental health), a reduction on the
previous year’s figure of 19.2%
- 6.8% of clients were supported to
change drug or alcohol dependence, this is an increase from the
previous year’s figure of 3.9%
- 6 clients (2.7%) were re homed in a
refuge, a reduction on the previous year’s figure of 12.
Additional funding to expand the IDVA service
has been provided by the Office of the Police and Crime
Commissioner. Whilst this has been well received the service is
still considered to be under resourced.
From 31st March 2017 the Home Office will
cease to provide local authorities with a grant contribution
towards the cost of the IDVA service. The annual £20,000
currently received split between Central Bedfordshire and Bedford
Borough will cease. This loss of funding adds a significant
risk to the IDVA service
(b) Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference
Within Bedford Borough, MARAC meetings take place monthly. The
meetings are supported by approximately 20 agencies that share
information and agree safety plans to reduce the risk of harm to
the most high risk victims of domestic abuse.
Referrals are made within 6 weeks of the most
recent incident and by use of the DASH Risk Indicator Checklist
(RIC). Those victims that receive a score of 14+ on the DASH
assessment are considered to be high risk. MARAC referrals can also
be made on the basis of professional judgement for those victims
that score below 14 points.
Between Apr 2015 and Mar 2016, 253 cases were discussed; this is
an increase of 1 case on the previous
The number of cases heard at each MARAC follows the pattern of
reporting in High Risk DA to the police. Higher numbers can be seen
in the summer months and around Christmas, which follows a season
pattern that is well documented.
It should also be noted that the overall numbers of High Risk DA
reported to the police is reducing. This is particularly positive
within the context of an overall increase in reporting of DA crimes
and incidents. It would suggest that victims are coming forward at
an earlier stage and that early interventions may be preventing the
risk from increasing.
60% - 75%
4% - 10%
- There has been a small increase in
levels of referrals over the last 3 years, but levels are
still below that recommended by Safe Lives (260 referrals per
- The proportion of cases referred by
the Police has increased to 54.9% but again this is still below the
lower level target.
- There has been a reduction in the
number of repeat cases to 38.3%, which is now inside the upper
target of 40%.
- There is an underrepresentation of
cases from both the BME community and male victims, with reductions
in both over the last 3 years.
(c) Bedfordshire Police Emerald
This newly formed team
replaces the Domestic Abuse Intensive Support Unit (DAISU) as
listed in last year’s report.
As of October 2016 the unit expanded to 60
officers. The new ‘Emerald Team’ will unite the investigation of
both domestic abuse and sexual offences across the county. The core
role of specialist in the team will ensure the highest level of
Risk assessments for DA victims of all levels
of risk will be undertaken by these specialist officers, this
should result improved standards in recording.
(d) Domestic Homicide
In April 2011, the Government implemented
Section 9 of the Domestic Violence, Crime & Victims Act 2004,
resulting in statutory guidance being published for Community
Safety Partnerships who have responsibility for Domestic Homicide
Reviews (DHRs). The aim of a DHR is to identify where lessons can
be learned in order prevent future homicides. The guidance has been
Home security measures are made available to
victims through the Sanctuary Scheme. Each case is assessed
individually. The Scheme is available across Bedford Borough and is
available via the Local Authority Housing Department.
(f) The Liberty
The Liberty programme is a group
programme that have experienced domestic abuse. It offers
therapeutic support alongside activity based learning with a focus
on rebuilding health relationships.
Bedford Borough offers two refuges, one is a
generic refuge for female victims and their children and the other
is a specialist provision for Asian women fleeing domestic
(i) Domestic Abuse Champion Scheme
(previously DA Representatives)
A domestic abuse champion is a member of a
service (statutory or voluntary) who has received additional
training and has access to further information and support for
domestic abuse. The purpose of a representative is to support their
team if anybody has concerns about a victim of domestic abuse; they
would support and advise them appropriately. This may be advising
them on how to complete a DASH risk assessment, making a referral
to MARAC, or informing them of services that may help the
The goal is to have a domestic abuse champion
within all services that work with the public, to assist in
the early identification of victims and to raise awareness of
Domestic Abuse and the confidence to report it.
As of July 2016 the service that covers both
Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire had 61 champions
registered with the scheme. Of these 34 (55.7%) cover the Bedford
(j) Project RELAY
Project RELAY is an initiative that runs in
partnership with the Police, the Early Help team in Children’s
Services and local schools. The scheme was launched in the Borough
in September 2015.
The scheme recognises the huge impact that DA
has on young people. National guidance suggests that over two
thirds of victims of serious domestic abuse have children and that
as many as 1 in every 6 children in the UK is affected by DA.
Within the Boroughs own MARAC process 303 children were affected by
the highest risk cases of DA in the period.
The scheme operates by information being
passed on, in a relay, from the Police force to the Early Help team
and then onto the nominated ‘Relay’ representative at the local
school. For children aged under 5 years this information is sent to
the appropriate Health Visitor. For young people aged between 16-18
information will be shared with the safeguarding lead at the
Since the launch of the scheme 1750 referrals
have been made to ‘Relay’ leads in the Borough.
- 29.8% related to children aged 0-5
- 67.2% related to school aged
- 3% related to young people aged
Bedfordshire Domestic Abuse
National Domestic Violence
0808 2000 247
Men’s Advice Line
0808 801 0327.
Broken Rainbow (LGBT
0300 999 5428
Respect (male & female perpetrator
0808 802 4040
Young Minds parents Helpline: 0808
Rape Crisis Free phone Helpline: 0808
Victim Support Helpline 0845 30 30
Victim Support Vulnerable Victim Caseworkers –
two full time caseworkers provide one-to-one support to people who
have been assessed as vulnerable.
Victim Support – Children and Young Persons
Caseworkers – this service is designed to provide an enhanced
service to young victims of crimes across Bedfordshire.
FACES (BDASS) – one to one support in
the family home by an experienced practitioner.
Families First Bedfordshire
Sunbeams – a therapeutic group for pre-school
children of those women who attend the Liberty Programme. Led
by a qualified Play Therapist, through appropriate play children
are able to express and explore their feelings caused by the impact
of domestic abuse.
Play Therapy Service – provides children and
young people with up to 12 one to one sessions of therapeutic
intervention. Available for children between 3 to
Space Youth Group (pilot) – a project for
children that have been affected by domestic abuse. Delivered
through Families First and 229. It is available for children
between the ages of 5-6 and 7-10. The group offers a range of
therapeutic and physical activities.
Bedford Women’s Centre – Freedom Programme –
an 11 week programme for women who have experienced domestic
abuse. It runs on a weekly basis as a rolling programme.
The Change Project – Relate North Essex and
East Herts – an accredited Community Domestic Abuse prevention
service for men or women who want to take positive steps to change
the way they behave in relationships. Although not
currently funded by Bedford Borough Council they are able to spot
Bold Moves – an organisation commissioned
through the Probation Community Rehabilitation Company (BeNCH)
operating in Bedford Borough. They also offer programmes in
HMP Bedford. Bold Moves offers a service to men within the
criminal justice system though places can also be spot
Services are provided via different channels.
Initiatives to improve accessibility include:
- New publicity material made available which
includes leaflets and an advice website http://www.bedsdv.org.uk/ . The
website includes links to specialist help lines e.g. in respect of
LGBT people, men, perpetrators, forced marriage, Muslim women,
rape, Asian children and child protection.
- Early intervention programmes with children
and young people to tackle the underlying causes of teenage
pregnancy. The Aspire programme is an evidence-based, early
intervention programme that offers young people at risk of poor
outcomes, including teenage pregnancy, small group support and
individual coaching, with an emphasis on raising future
aspirations. In the academic year 2013/14, the programme will be
delivered across 2 middle schools and 2 upper schools, to 20
identified vulnerable young people in high teenage pregnancy
areas in Bedford Borough. All those who join the programme will be
closely monitored over the next year to measure the impact and
outcomes of the intervention
- Nationally 30% of domestic violence starts
during pregnancy. Bedford Hospital maternity department have
implemented a Routine Enquiry policy and procedure which will
- A language barrier has been identified as
very few members of staff working within domestic abuse are able to
speak a second language. When a request for a service comes from
someone whose first language is not English the Language Line
service is used. This does not always provide the victim with the
most personable service that is required and also comes at a
Due to the sensitivities around this client
group, it is difficult to gain views on how those services are
received at this point in their lives.
- It is nationally recognised that Domestic
Abuse is under reported.
- The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)
estimated in 2014/15 that 8.2% of women and 4.5% of men experienced
domestic abuse in the last year.
- The Bedford CSP Plan 2017-20 includes a
number of strategic objectives to raise awareness and increase the
reporting of DA within the Borough.
- Increases in both DA crimes and incidents
have been recorded in the last two performance years.
- This rise in reporting suggests a positive
increase in awareness of the issue and confidence in those services
that support victims, within the local community.
What are the key
What are the unmet needs/ service
- Children are present at a significantly high
proportion of domestic abuse incidents.
- The current Home Office definition of
domestic violence relates to those aged 16 and over. The
definition changed to include 16-18 year olds in April 2013.
- National and local research suggests that the
rate of violence increases with the rate of unemployment.
- A growing population (combined with an
economic downturn) could result in an increase in domestic abuse,
placing greater demand on services and resources.
- Nationally domestic abuse is recognised to be
under reported, with levels or reporting from BME and male victims
being even lower.
- National research shows LGBT victims are less
likely to report to the Police this is true in the majority of
crimes not just domestic abuse.
- A language barrier has been identified for
those whose first language is not English.
- Repeat victims and perpetrators may not be
identified where data entry errors occur (e.g. spelling of
- The need for ongoing development of the work
- Lack of provision available for children and
young people that have experienced or witnessed domestic
- Support for victims with additional
barriers. SafeLives highlighted this ranges from those with
learning difficulties, no recourse to public funds and those who
speak English as a second language.
- Gap in services for females without
children. Most services provided in Bedford Borough are
linked to Children Centres
This chapter links to the following
chapter in the JSNA:
Children in Need
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