Reported domestic violence incidents in Scarborough more than doubled in the past four years

The number of reports of domestic violence in Scarborough received by North Yorkshire Police has more than doubled in the past four years.

Thursday, 12th March 2020, 1:25 pm

Data obtained through a Freedom of Information Request has revealed that in 2016 the force recorded 403 domestic violence incidents in the town; that rose to 852 last year.

The largest domestic abuse charity in Yorkshire, IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services), which supports anyone experiencing or affected by domestic abuse, has said it is “not surprised” by the increase.

IDAS’ Scarborough and Ryedale Local Area Manager, Izzy Birley, said: “It is deeply saddening to see the rise in reported domestic violence incidents, however we are not surprised.

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"We work with thousands of individuals and families every year, many of whom are at high risk of injury or death due to the perpetrator of abuse.”

The steep increase in reported incidents does not necessarily mean domestic violence is on the rise, but could be an indication that more victims feel comfortable enough to go to the authorities.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: “We know that victims of domestic abuse can feel isolated and powerless, which can make them reluctant to come forward and report to police. So to see an increase in numbers is reassuring, as more people feel in a position to come forward and talk to us.”

Izzy added: “Certainly there is an increased awareness of domestic abuse, and new legislation around coercive and controlling behaviour has highlighted the significant risk associated with controlling behaviours and emotional abuse.

“However, recent reports on the number of domestic homicides nationally suggest that more women are being murdered as a result of domestic abuse which is a serious cause for concern.

“It is important to consider that reported incidents of domestic violence are just the tip of the iceberg and also do not give us the full picture.

“There are fewer people working with families to spot the warning signs of domestic abuse and this can make it more difficult for support to be put in place before things escalate to the level that emergency services need to become involved.”

Encouragingly, the data also showed a rise in the number of Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPNs) issued by police in Scarborough.

A DVPN can be made by police following a domestic incident to provide short-term protection to a victim when an arrest has not yet been made.

It gives police an alternative to allowing the suspect to remain or return home.

An application must then be made to the magistrates’ court within 48 hours for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO).

In 2016, 12 DVPNs were issued by police (3 per cent of total incidents) which rose to 41 last year, representing 5 per cent of total incidents.

In 2016 the number of charges brought was 107 – just over a quarter of all the reported incidents that year. In 2019 there were just 53 charges, however police say a significant number of incidents are still under investigation.

The police spokesman added: “Domestic abuse, in all its forms, has a devastating effect on victims, their families and the community as a whole.

“If you or someone you know is living in the shadow of abuse, please contact police on 101 and report your concerns. In an emergency always dial 999.

“We can ensure you received the support you need and can put immediate safeguarding measures in place to help keep you safe.”

How to get help or support those who need it

Those who don’t want to go to the police are advised to seek advice elsewhere such as from IDAS.

In Scarborough IDAS support young people through education, such as teaching young people about healthy relationships and consent, which they believe is key in ending domestic abuse.

The charity believes it is also important to challenge attitudes to domestic abuse.

Izzy Birley, said: “We often look for reasons why abusers behave the way they do and in some cases make excuses.

“There is never an excuse to threaten, harm, hurt or injure another person and we must listen and believe people when they come forward.”

Warning signs of domestic abuse include feeling like you are treading on egg-shells, having to check-in all the time, feeling like you can only go to certain places and being isolated from friends and family.

IDAS encourages people who are worried about a friend or family member to find time to talk to them on their own in a safe place.

Izzy said: “You can talk to them about why you are worried and ask them if they feel safe. If your friend doesn’t want to talk or pushes you away, try not to take this personally, keep in touch with them and try to build their confidence and self-esteem.”

IDAS support is available at www.idas.org.uk or by ringing 03000110110.

People can also contact the local council’s safeguarding team, or speak to Supporting Victims in North Yorkshire – www.supportingvictims.org.

If you are worried someone is at urgent risk of serious harm contact the police.

What is the Government's plan to tackle Domestic Abuse?

Earlier this month the Government introduced its long-awaited Domestic Abuse Bill to the House of Commons with the aim of improving the effectiveness of the justice system in bringing perpetrators to justice.

If it passes, the Bill will create a statutory definition of domestic abuse with an emphasis it is not just physical violence.

It will also establish a Domestic Abuse Commissioner, place a duty on local authorities to provide support to victims and their children in refuges, and prohibit suspects from cross-examining their victims in court.

It would also allow domestic abuse offenders to be subject to lie detector testing as a condition of their licence following release from custody.

The next step for the Bill will be its second reading, the first opportunity for MPs to debate its contents. A date for the second reading has not yet been given.