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Groups from across the public and voluntary sectors in the West Midlands have come together to launch the country’s first set of standards for domestic violence and abuse services.

West Mids DV image

The standards set out for the first time levels of service and support that victims from across the West Midlands should receive and can expect.

In the West Midlands there are on average 48 cases of domestic violence each day, up from 33 crimes a day three years ago. There were over 17,000 such crimes a year in the West Midlands. The increase is due to improved recording and increased confidence of victims coming forward. Domestic violence and abuse takes place throughout all neighbourhoods, communities, socio-economic backgrounds and ages.

The standards state that the responsibility to end violence lies with the abuser and state institutions. Combating domestic violence requires a comprehensive and coordinated inter-agency response. Victims do not experience violence in silos and neither should agencies respond in silos.

Minimum standards of service are therefore key to ensuring that victims (both adults and children) are treated with dignity and respect and have services that help them be safe and support them and their children in their recovery from violence.

A clear message will be sent that domestic violence perpetrators are accountable for their behaviour and that victims are never to blame, but work will go on to reform perpetrators of violence.

Domestic abuse does not just refer to violence, but also covers all forms of abuse, including emotional and coercive control.

David Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, said:

“I will be holding the police to account to ensure that they deliver these standards and will be working closely with other bodies to ensure that they are meeting these standards too.

“Domestic violence occurs at least 48 times a day in the West Midlands. We therefore need robust services in place to support victims and help them to recover.

“The increase in the reporting of domestic violence is a positive step, that shows that there is increased confidence in the police to deal with such crimes.”

Stephen Rimmer, West Midlands strategic lead for preventing violence against vulnerable people, said:

“These Standards set out a very clear and public commitment from all of the key agencies across the West Midlands to provide the best possible service to victims and their children of this industrial-scale violent crime – and to be relentless in holding perpetrators to account. It is essential that we demonstrate consistent compliance with these Standards, and what we are doing to tackle any shortfalls. And I expect the police, local authorities, health, Probation, CPS and partners to ensure this gets the collective priority it deserves.”

Carole Collins, Lead Nurse for Domestic Abuse & Domestic Homicide Reviews across Birmingham’s CCGs, said:

“These standards are the result of excellent collaboration. It is very important that we all make sure that they are embedded in to all of organisations.

“These new domestic violence and abuse standards will also help safeguard children across the region.

“By avoiding unsafe responses to domestic violence and abuse we are firmly showing that it is always the perpetrator’s and never the victim’s fault or responsibility.

“Birmingham CCGs are committed to these standards and want to emphasise that are piloting the IRIS Programme to GPs to lead this change.”

The West Midlands Specialist Provider Domestic Abuse Partnership (WMSPDAP), said:

“The West Midlands Specialist Provider Domestic Abuse Partnership welcomes the launch of the Domestic Abuse Standards as for too long there has been an inconsistent approach to supporting victims of violence and abuse. These standards offer a real opportunity for all partners to have a greater understanding of best practice and what really works. Our Partnership is pleased to see inclusion of some of our best practice in these standards. Specialist Services working together will continue to shout out loud and clear as we stand united in combatting this heinous crime.”

Councillor Ann Lucas, Leader of Coventry City Council and the Local Government Association’s National Domestic Violence Champion, said:

“This is an important piece of work for all of us in the West Midlands who are determined to address domestic violence and abuse and make our region safer for everyone who has been or could be a victim of this shocking and unacceptable crime.

“Partners involved in this groundbreaking piece of work – the first of its kind in the country – are determined to drive this agenda forward. Leaders of councils across the West Midlands will hold each other and agencies to account in delivering these clear, concise and compelling standards.

“Of course any strategy is only as good as the outcomes it can deliver. We will remain focused on measurable outcomes that prove the value of partnership working and these standards.

“The importance of tackling domestic violence and abuse has been an issue I’ve been proud to lead on nationally, regionally and locally for many years. These standards will help us do more in this crucial area of work and I am proud to have played a small part in their launch.”

The Statement of Principles commits each organisation to the following:

•           We will prioritise the safety of victims and their children in every aspect of decision making and intervention. We understand that victims and their children are at most risk when they end a violent relationship or seek help and will work to protect them when they do.

•           We understand that without effective intervention domestic violence & abuse often escalates in severity. We will make every effort to reach and identify adult and child victims earlier.

•           We will treat victims with respect and dignity. We will listen to them and believe their experiences of violence; take seriously their concerns and seek to understand and strengthen their safety strategies.

•           We will seek to gain informed consent from victims where possible when there is an intention to share information.

•           We will respect confidentiality and privacy wherever possible and understand the increased risks associated with information sharing in the context of domestic violence and abuse.   

•           We will maximise choices for domestic violence and abuse victims and empower domestic violence and abuse victims to make informed decisions about their lives wherever possible.

•           We will actively work to develop competent services which are sensitive to the diverse range and needs of the individuals and communities we serve.

•           We will send clear messages that domestic violence perpetrators are accountable for their behaviour and that victims are never to blame.

•           We will work co-operatively with the range of services that victims need.

•           We will recognise the importance of specialist independent domestic violence and abuse services in providing a voice for victims and children and guiding us on safe practice.

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