18th October 2021
Lieutenancy Focus Group Conference
On Tuesday 28th September, the Lieutenancy’s Focus Group on Domestic Abuse hosted a conference at Holy Trinity Church in Guildford. The Focus Group exists to give support to all the agencies in Surrey that help the increasing number of people affected by domestic abuse, including children. Many of the key figures in the county, those working to help victims and those administering justice to perpetrators, came together to give and listen to presentations, and to share thoughts on how to tackle this growing problem.
Following a powerful introduction from Emma, highlighting her own experience as a victim, but now a survivor who helps to run a Surrey refuge, there were talks from Charlotte Kneer DL, CEO of Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid; Fiamma Pather CEO of Your Sanctuary, Woking; Sonia Knight and Louise Gibbins of the SCC Community Safety Team; Dep Chief Constable Kemp; Chief Supt Barcraft-Barnes of the Police Protection Command; HHJ Fraser MVO DL, Resident Judge of Guildford Crown Court; District Judge Sarah King of the Family Court; and Jody Powell and Louisa Crowsley, programme managers at Surrey Probation Service.
The statistics are deeply troubling:
- In 2020 there were 9,500 crimes involving domestic abuse, which accounted for 15% all Surrey criminal cases;
- Almost 1 in 3 women aged 16 to 59 will experience domestic abuse during their lifetime;
- Two women per week were killed by a partner or previous partner during the year ending March 2019, and 1 in 6 women experienced domestic abuse during the same period.
- The cost to the public purse of domestic abuse in England and Wales was estimated to be approximately £66bn in the year ending March 2017, including services, lost workdays, police, ambulances, hospital care etc.
There was agreement that the scale of the task is huge but that close liaison between voluntary and public agencies in Surrey gives hope that the worst effects can be contained. The new Domestic Abuse Act which became law at the end of April 2021, strengthens the support for victims of domestic abuse by statutory agencies, and further improves the effectiveness of the justice system in providing protection for victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.
But it was generally agreed that the scale and extent of domestic abuse cannot be eradicated by policing alone. Many victims (often with children) do not want criminal justice action – they simply want the abuse to stop. Society at large has to recognise that violent, abusive and controlling behaviour is unacceptable, and that children brought up within such a relationship may go on to perpetuate this behaviour in their own relationships. It is vital to call out such behaviour wherever it arises.
A further conference is planned in the second half of 2022. In the meantime further measures will be taken to widen the scope of the agencies involved to include education and business.
Surrey Domestic Abuse Helpline 01483 776822
National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
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