Council cites progress in helping domestic abuse victims

Domestic violence has risen since the start of the pandemic, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Domestic abuse reports have risen during the pandemic (credit Dev Benjamin via Unsplash)
A domestic abuse hub was launched last year by the council (credit Dev Benjamin via Unsplash)

Progress has been made in ensuring local services designed to tackle domestic abuse “support all communities” and are “easily accessible”, according to an Enfield Council report.

During the past two years, the council has launched a domestic abuse hub, set up a scheme to encourage perpetrators to change their behaviour, and used communication campaigns aimed at preventing abuse by challenging the attitudes that foster it.

According to the report, which was presented to the council’s equalities board on Wednesday by head of community safety Andrea Clemons, demand for services was higher during the Covid-19 pandemic and delivery “often more difficult”.

Andrea told the meeting the council had secured around £300,000 from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to continue its perpetrators programme after a successful pilot, following a joint funding bid alongside Barnet and Brent councils.

The project, set to run until July next year, allows perpetrators of abuse to voluntarily access a programme to help them change their behaviour, rather than doing so in response to a court ruling.

She said: “The idea of is that we will work with perpetrators from communities which may be marginalised for a variety of reasons, and we will will also work in an intersectional way with the families to make sure we are addressing domestic abuse in an appropriate way and recognising some of the pressures that may exist in terms of gender, culture or other factors.”

The Enfield Domestic Abuse Hub was launched in May last year in response to concerns over increasing domestic abuse incidents during the Covid-19 pandemic. Its helpline continues to operate during weekdays between 9am and 5pm.

Andrea told councillors that the hub had improved the service provided to those contacting it. It has received 242 contacts since its launch, and the council aims to keep it running beyond the end of the pandemic.

The head of community safety added that recent communications campaigns included a project run with Enfield Youth Parliament. Focused on challenging inappropriate behaviour, it has been shared on social media platforms.

Responding to a question from Conservative councillor Lindsay Rawlings, Andrea said the council also had access to a helpline for male victims of domestic abuse.

Labour’s Ayfer Orhan asked how the council could identify and help “invisible” groups of people who were not speaking out about the abuse they faced because they were fearful of coming forward – perhaps because people would not listen or believe them.

Andrea said it was important to repeat the message that people could be confident help is available for them. Adding that many women may be frightened to leave abusive relationships, she stressed the importance of providing good homes and “opportunities with well-paid jobs”.

The head of community safety told the meeting the council was also looking at working with faith groups to help tackle domestic abuse. Labour’s Ergin Erbil suggested holding a community meeting with faith leaders, as well as working with organisations such as Age UK and Healthwatch Enfield.