by our RBG Correspondent
The Royal Borough’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment was joined by the Borough’s most senior police officer this week to launch the latest in a series of posters to highlight the campaign to tackle domestic violence and abuse.
|Cllr Jackie Smith (right) and Greenwich Borough Commander,|
Chief Superintendent Helen Millichap. (Credit: RBG)
Councillor Jackie Smith and the Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Helen Millichap officially launched the next phase of the publicity campaign which is aimed at highlighting the negative effects that domestic violence and abuse can have on young children.
The main message is “You can’t hide domestic violence from children.” This challenges the idea often held by perpetrators or victims that as long as their children do not see the abuse taking place, they are protected from its impact. The truth is that children in abusive households can be seriously affected as they do hear the arguments and shouting. They will also witness or hear violence taking place, and will often even blame themselves for what is happening.
Experiencing or witnessing domestic abuse as a child may lead to developmental, behavioural, emotional and social relationship issues which last well into adulthood. Children raised in abusive homes are also more likely to become abusers themselves, suffer from stress, depression and poor self-esteem and fall behind or drop out of school.
One of the three posters is directed at male perpetrators and has the headline, “Dads, have the strength to change” This follows evidence which shows that fathers who are abusive to the partners are more likely seek help to change their behaviour if they are made to face up to the damaging effects their behaviour has on their children.
Councillor Jackie Smith, Royal Greenwich Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment said: “It is never acceptable to engage in violent or abusive behaviour towards a partner or spouse, and where that takes place with children in the home the effects can be devastating and long lasting. From a very young age, through school and into adulthood the negative effects of domestic abuse can continue throughout a person’s life. Those who grow up in abusive household are less likely to achieve at school and get a good job. They are also more likely to suffer from stress, depression, guilt, drug or alcohol dependency, and have difficulty forming trusting relationships.
"Another tragic irony is that they may also take on the types of abusive, controlling and violent behaviour they have witnessed from a parent, so that the cycle of abuse continues to the next generation. This is far too important an issue to pretend that children can be shielded from it. If those committing abuse do not change their behaviour, we will seek to take strong and decisive action against them to protect their partners and their children."
Chief Superintendent Helen Millichap said: "Domestic abuse is a serious crime which isolates victims and will often remain unreported. It is a priority for Greenwich police and we would urge people to call police if they are a victim of this type of crime or have information that could help us keep someone safe.
“We work closely with the Royal Borough of Greenwich to end the cycle of violence, bring offenders to justice and provide practical support to victims. We know that ending abuse requires complex support and that and that it must be sensitive to the needs of the victim. That is why police do not work alone on this.
“Many of the hidden victims of domestic abuse are children who experience or witness violence within their family and who we must protect. This campaign helps to raise awareness about the support your local police and council can provide to families affected by domestic abuse, and we hope it will encourage people to come to us for help."
A key part of the strategy is a dedicated police domestic violence intervention team (DVIT). Funded by the Royal Borough, the team ensures that victims are supported through the criminal justice system to gain legal orders preventing their partners from abusive behaviour, and making sure that those who abuse and attack their partners are brought to justice.
The local DVIT police team is based at Plumstead Police Station, where a specialist team of support workers from the Her Centre and Housing for Women are also based so that a fully complete service can be provided to victims.
Recent figures showed that from July 2014 to March 2015 the police team conducted 1260 home welfare visits, a 63% increase on the previous year. The team also supported more than 350 high risk victims and tackled 127 perpetrators with a range of interventions including 19 non-molestation court orders.
As a result of the concentrated work with the highest risk victims and offenders, a review earlier in the year showed an 83% fall in repeat incidents involving high risk victims and an 80% drop in attacks involving the serious repeat offenders.
The extra support is backed by a public awareness and publicity campaign which shows that people of all backgrounds, ages or social groups can become a victim of domestic abuse and that we all have a responsibility to tackle the problem in our communities. This includes showing that abuse has many forms, does not always include violence, and importantly recognising that men also experience domestic violence and abuse.
Last year there were more than 2,600 calls to the dedicated Domestic Abuse helpline (020 8317 8273), which is an increase of 69% over the previous year. Over the same time visits to the website www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/domesticabuse also increased.