Speaker’s Corner: ‘I have launched the biggest domestic abuse review in Herts ever’
Last week I spent time with thousands of other Conservatives at party conference in Birmingham.
One of the areas that I spoke and attended events about was tackling domestic abuse. Gazette readers may well remember me writing in this newspaper about it at the beginning of the year. I said it was a top priority of mine for 2014 and beyond. In Birmingham I spoke about my decision to fund projects that will help protect victims of violence or other abuse in the home now and in the years to come.
Domestic abuse occurs in all sectors of society, among people from all backgrounds. It happens within the home, within the family and within relationships. Men, women and children can all be victims and perpetrators.
These crimes often go unreported for many reasons – perhaps the saddest is that some simply don’t realise that they are victims at all and just accept it as part of normal life.
I spoke about the importance of raising awareness at a recent launch of Hertfordshire Constabulary’s #trustinus social media campaign, which aims to build confidence between victims and the authorities and educate people about how to recognise abuse.
I have been using my victims’ commissioning budget to support victims in this area. The budget is money used for supporting victims of crime and is being transferred from Central Government to my office. Out of this pot I recently agreed to fund a pilot scheme that has seen a new independent domestic abuse adviser working at Watford General Hospital – one of the main hospitals serving this area.
This “IDVA” as they are known provides support to victims of abuse who, as you might expect, may find themselves at hospital. They also train hospital staff to recognise and support victims better themselves. After just a couple of months, I understand the scheme is already having some positive results.
Perhaps even more significant in the long-term though is that I have recently commissioned an independent review of services to domestic abuse victims in Hertfordshire.
This is the biggest review of its kind ever seen in the county and my hope is that it will help us better understand the support available to victims from the many different organisations operating here.
Despite all the good work the public and voluntary sectors are doing with victims, they don’t necessarily have the time to look at the bigger picture, or the influence to make big changes. With the investment in this review, we will have a starting point for better co-ordinating and better targeting our support, hopefully also making it more efficient so it can stretch further.
If victims are better served, then they are better protected.
These projects may not be flashy or eye-catching schemes aimed at grabbing headlines. But they are initiatives directed at those who need it most and who sadly all too often go under the radar.
And at a time when some are questioning the value of Police and Crime Commissioners, I say, look past the negative press and see projects like these and their value.
Commissioners are not only standing up for victims all over the country, but they are using their role to look at the wider picture around crime and get things done.