United Against Domestic Violence and Abuse
The Royal Borough of Greenwich has come together with key local partners in the police, health service and local support groups to launch a major domestic violence and abuse campaign.
The strategy provides a range of improved services for victims so that they and their families can receive the support needed to move on from abusive and violent relationships. The Her Centre and Housing for Women’s Greenwich Domestic Violence and Abuse (GDVA) Service have helped hundreds of local victims of domestic violence and their families.
Funding from the campaign means that GDVA’s dedicated referral and advice line 020 8317 8273 has extra resources to support victims and their families. The 020 8317 8273 phone line is open 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. However, everyone should still ring 999 in an emergency.
The Royal Borough’s website www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/
Investment in the campaign also means that the Her Centre and Housing for Women each provide an extra day as part of specialist domestic violence and abuse victim support team, increasing the service from 3 days a week to five.
A key part of the strategy is a new and 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 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 and includes three police officers and a specialist intelligence researcher, managed by a Detective Inspector.
To date the police team has already supported 163 victims, conducted 505 home visits and welfare checks and obtained 30 non-molestation court orders against perpetrators; injunctions which include the power of arrest and imprisonment if breached.
Funding for the various programmes includes £600,000 from the Royal Borough for the specialist police team and a further £250,000 which has been provided by the Greenwich NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.
Among the other aspects of the strategy: a programme for working with medium risk victims; training for healthcare professionals to increase levels of disclosure and referral to support services; an enhanced multi-agency team to manage high risk domestic violence and the creation of a domestic violence toolkit for schools.
The strategy is on-going and will develop in the weeks and months ahead. It will be backed up with a publicity and poster campaign across the Royal Borough to raise awareness about the difference forms of abuse, point victims towards the range of help available and ensure perpetrators know that they face arrest and imprisonment unless they change their unacceptable behaviour.
Councillor Maureen O’Mara, Royal Borough Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment said: “We are launching this campaign with our partners, including the police, because victims of domestic violence should not feel helpless or suffer in silence.
“We want victims to come forward and seek help. We also want everyone in the community to know they can do something if they are worried a friend, relative, neighbour or stranger may be suffering domestic violence or abuse.
“The clear and unequivocal message to those who engage in abusive and violent behaviour that what you do is damaging and totally unacceptable. We will stand alongside your victims, give them the support to seek help, and will take the strongest action against you if your destructive behaviour does not stop.”
Superintendent David McLaren, from Greenwich Police said: “The new strategy adds to the work professionals and volunteers do every day to tackle domestic violence and abuse. There are still too many victims who suffer behind closed doors. As a partnership we are reaching out to provide a more supportive and sustained approach to assist victims through prosecution, or to make the life changing decisions to allow them to escape abusive relationships. We have a dedicated team of officers who will do all they can to support victims and because we know that domestic abuse is consistently under-reported, we work hard with our partners to support victims, increase reporting and put offenders before the courts.”
Her Centre volunteer and former victim of domestic violence Anne-Marie said: “I thought domestic violence was only about a beating but there’s financial, emotional and psychological bullying. Domestic violence usually happens behind closed doors and people may hear it but they don’t know what to do. Having the helpline and the website means there’s always somewhere they can go to report it.”
Stacy Smith, Director of the Her Centre said: “Often women feel very isolated but if more and more people are recognising abusive behaviour, challenging it and supporting the victims, it’s got to improve the lives of people experiencing it.”
Judith Banjoko, Manager at Housing 4 Women said: “The advice line means we have greater capacity to deal with more calls and because it’s a local number that might increase women’s confidence to call. It means they will speak to the same woman all the time which helps them to build a relationship and the advisor will know exactly who to talk to in children’s services or housing and that wealth of local knowledge makes all the difference.”
Dr Eugenia Lee, Member of the Governing body, NHS Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Working as a GP in Greenwich, I am acutely aware of the significant impact domestic violence has, not only for the victim but also the children. We are in full support of this launch and working together with our partners to arrive at a healthier and safer Greenwich.”