People at risk of serious harm, rape or even murder in their own homes will now get more support after the Police and Crime Commissioner announced he would double the number of specialist domestic abuse and sexual violence experts in the region.
Simon Foster, who is deeply concerned about the rising levels of violence in the West Midlands, will increase the number of Independent Domestic Abuse Advocates and Independent Sexual Violence Advocates from 31 to 64.
Domestic Abuse has risen by 39% in the last year. In 2019/20 there were 41,532 reported cases of domestic abuse, but that rose to 57,653 in 2020/21. The increase is thought to have been driven by lockdown with people forced to stay at home for long periods of time, as well as changes to the way data is collected.
The new recruits will work for organisations like The Haven Wolverhampton, which supports women and children who are subjected to domestic abuse.
The move should mean more women, and men, who find themselves in high risk situations at home can be kept safe.
Domestic Abuse Advocates tend to help people who are at serious risk of violence, whilst Sexual Violence Advocates help people who have been raped or sexually abused.
In his manifesto ahead of the PCC election on May 6th Mr Foster pledged to boost the number of these kind of specialists and to do more to protect women and girls from violence.
The total cost of the extra investment is £1.4 million and has been secured after an application was submitted to the Ministry of Justice. In all, 13 organisations will be paid by the PCC to recruit the advocates.
Commenting on his decision to boost support for victims of sex crimes and serious domestic violence, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, said: “When I was campaigning to become PCC I promised to invest more in services that protected women and girls from violence and I’m very pleased to say that is exactly what this will do.
“With domestic abuse rising across the country it is more important than ever that we bring those people who feel they are above the law to justice, but also to support the victims and ensure they are kept safe.
“I will continue to look at what can be done to protect the most vulnerable in our region and to keep everybody safe.”
Popinder Kaur, Chief Executive at The Haven Wolverhampton said
“This additional resourcing to support victims of abuse at the highest risk of serious harm could not come at a more important time. The need for specialist support has risen significantly during the pandemic and we welcome the announcement to respond to this need and ensure the most vulnerable victims of abuse can access the support they need.”
The West Midlands Victims’ Commissioner Councillor Nicky Brennan said: “Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Advocates provide an essential service to victims.
“They are highly trained and help to guide those who have suffered abuse through the criminal justice system which can be incredibly challenging and complex.
“We have seen a rise in domestic abuse in the past year and by doubling the number of advocates, we can help to support more victims and keep people safe.”
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