One in five crimes in Norfolk linked to domestic abuse, meeting hears
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About 22pc of all crime reported in Norfolk is domestic abuse-related, a meeting has heard, as charities say they have seen a spike in demand since the pandemic.
The stark statistic was published in a report, the Safer Norfolk Plan 2021 to 2024, in advance of a meeting held by the Norfolk County Community Safety Partnership (NCCSP).
During the pandemic, charities and helplines reported an increase in people seeking support, including Norfolk's Leeway, which saw a three-fold rise during the pandemic.
At Thursday's meeting, Conservative member Penny Carpenter, who sits on Great Yarmouth Borough and Norfolk County councils, pointed out that the figure only reflected those who had reported their abuse.
In a question to NCCSP manager Amanda Murr, Ms Carpenter asked: “How do you get those people to come and report it who are quite frankly suffering absolute silence and hellish conditions - how do you do that?”
Ms Murr stressed the importance of looking “at all avenues possible where we can get that message out” such as via the Home Office scheme ‘Ask for ANI’ (Action Needed Immediately) - through which abuse victims can go into pharmacies with an ‘Ask for ANI’ sticker in their window and ask to speak with ‘Annie’. The person can then be taken into a private consultation room for support.
The NCCSP, a body made up of councils, police, fire services and health bodies, is also ensuring non-digital resources are available through Norfolk’s library services and have run a campaign of stickers on prescription packs, letting people know of help available through regional and national helplines.
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But Ms Carpenter emphasised the need to get out into the community.
“You have to be where the people are,” she said. “I have stood at Market Gates [shopping centre] in Great Yarmouth, in Domestic Violence Week, and we were inundated, absolutely inundated.
“Anybody who came to the table was a victim of domestic violence, whether it had been recent or 20, 30 years ago, they recalled it to us there.
"So you still have to go out into the community… We were there all day and we were absolutely bombarded by people who wanted to come and talk to us, just to release, half the time.
"It’s great having every digital access to you, but you still need to go out there into the communities."
Ms Murr acknowledged the point and said a communications strategy was being prepared ahead of White Ribbon Day in November - a day established by a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls.
Charity sees incidents triple during pandemic
Norfolk domestic abuse charity Leeway has experienced a three-fold increase in phone calls, messages and emails to its services during the pandemic.
While 5,234 were received in the 18 months from September 2018 to March 2020, some 15,112 were received from April 2020 to September 2021.
Mandy Proctor, chief executive of Leeway, said: “We know home is not always a safe place for people experiencing domestic abuse and the various lockdown measures will have caused increased tensions at home and have likely led to an escalation in incidents.
“The pandemic has provided many challenges for people accessing support, particularly as it may not be safe for them to pick up the phone as this may alert the perpetrator. This has been reflected by the increase in people using more discreet methods such as email or our live chat to access support.
“Over the past couple of years, the increased awareness of coercive control has seen more people coming forward for support around this form of abuse.
“I am hopeful the recently passed Domestic Abuse Act will work to continue to raise awareness of domestic abuse.”
For support, call 0300 561 0077.