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Half of domestic abuse incidents happen at homes with children in, says PCC Kim McGuinness

9th November 2020

 

CHILDREN must not be the forgotten victims of domestic abuse, says Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness as new figures from Northumbria Police reveal children live at nearly half of the homes where domestic abuse is reported.

So far, in 2020, 42 per cent of the force’s domestic abuse related calls come from homes with one or more children present or residing at that address.

The Police Commissioner has also warned of the impact Covid-19 has had on domestic abuse with unhealthy relationships at home intensifying, perpetrators using restrictions to increase controlling behaviours and school closures leaving children unable to escape.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “Estimates say up to a quarter of a million children are living with domestic abuse in England and many of those will be suffering in silence, right here in the North East. Children are just as much the victims in this.

“In nearly half the domestic abuse incidents our force knows about, and remember there’s a great deal of under-reporting that goes on, children live in that address. That is a disturbing figure. They hear the screams, they see the violence and in some cases they are on the receiving end of it. They are there living the abuse too. Just think how frightened a child must be if they’ve felt the need to pick up the phone and press 999 because it’s got so bad at home – the very place where they should feel safe and secure.”

Since schools re-opened in September, the education team from PCC Kim McGuinness’ Violence Reduction Unit has been busy delivering sessions to schools on healthy relationships and where to go to seek support.

Kim added: “The impact on children is a real area of concern for me. Support for children living with domestic abuse is crucial and must be there at an early stage to help avoid trauma later in life – schools often have a very important role to play in supporting those who are suffering at home.

“Earlier this year my office was also able to fund some brilliant projects through the Children Affected by Domestic Abuse funding. This was about helping crucial organisations adapt and cope with increased demand brought on by the pandemic.

“But we must remember the pandemic doesn’t cause domestic abuse – the problem is already there it’s just heightened things. Supporting children who are affected needs real long term commitment if we are going to change lives and prevent abuse being normalised in families and repeated in future generations.”

West End Women and Girls Centre used funding from the PCC’s office to extend the employment of a full time Domestic Abuse Peer Educator who has facilitated preventative work around DA and healthy relationships with young women as well as 1:1 support.

Laura Christer, Senior Domestic Violence Peer Educator at the centre, said: “Our work is essential to stop the cycle of domestic abuse at an early age by building the power and knowledge of young women and girls to say no to abusive behaviours. Without this funding we would have been unable to reach the 7200 people we worked with during lockdown.”

PCC Kim McGuiness currently has a survey running on Fighting Crime and Preventing Crime, to help shape Northumbria Police’s plans for the next four years. If you think more needs to be done to tackle domestic abuse you can respond to the survey online by visiting http://bit.ly/PCPCon2020. The consultation closes on Friday 27 November.