But at half the rate of rest of country
Devon and Cornwall Police is supporting a campaign calling on employers to do more to combat domestic abuse. As part of the international 16 days of action movement, Public Health England South West is urging employers across the region to help tackle domestic and sexual abuse and violence.
Such incidents are on the up. Devon & Cornwall Police saw a 3.6 per cent rise for the year ending March 2020, compared to 2018/19. If it's any comfort, the rise is lower than the England and Wales increase of 8.5 per cent. It's being put down to more people reporting incidents.
Assistant chief constable Jim Colwell said: “Preventing and investigating domestic abuse remains a big priority and we are working hard to encourage victims or people who suspect abuse is happening to speak up. Working together with our partners we will help and support anyone needing to break free from an abusive relationship.
“Taking positive action is at the heart of our response which includes transparently recording all incidents, accurately identifying risk and allocating specialist resources to investigate and safeguard victims and families. For all our successes there are still a those that are fearful of coming forwards or don’t believe that their situation is important enough to be taken seriously. The harm, physical or psychological, caused to those affected by domestic abuse should not be underestimated and we take every report seriously.
“Alongside Public Health England South West, we are calling on employers across the region to play their part in tackling domestic and sexual abuse and violence. As an employer, Devon & Cornwall Police have introduced a new system to encourage our staff and officers to feel confident to come forward and report domestic abuse. This includes marking incident logs as confidential and ensuring allegations are investigated by separate command units to support staff with any concern or fear of embarrassment. We need a collective effort to break the cycle and I would urge all employers to look at the useful toolkit and find ways to make reporting easier.”
Public Health England (PHE) has identified domestic abuse as a hugely destructive problem and believes employers have an important role to play in society’s response. The problem is even more acute due to the pandemic, with home working denying many victims access to workplaces, which can often be the only refuge and a place where signs of abuse may be spotted. The National Domestic Abuse helpline run by the charity Refuge reported more than 40,000 calls were made during the first three months of lockdown.
Tracy Daszkiewicz, Deputy Director of Population Health & Wellbeing for Public Health England South West, said: “Fear of stigma and isolation stops people who experience domestic abuse from seeking help. As we all continue to work from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, it may be even more difficult for victims of domestic abuse to come forward."
Alison Hernandez, police and crime commissioner said: “An important part of my work is commissioning vital services for those who have suffered domestic abuse. The 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Abuse is another way to highlight how seriously we take this crime. Domestic abuse has not relented during Covid and we must do everything we can to stop it.
“This month we headed up a successful bid for £417,395 from Central Government and £215,959 in match funding for a programme to work with the perpetrators of domestic abuse. Intervening early and working with perpetrators and their families is crucial to helping them identify why they act in this manner and what changes they can make to alter their behaviour."
For support and advice, including how to contact support agencies, please visit www.domesticabusehelp.co.uk