Commissioner funds in-depth research into the needs of domestic abuse victims
The most comprehensive review of services and support for victims of domestic abuse ever undertaken in Hertfordshire is being funded by the county’s Police & Crime Commissioner. 

The work is part of the Commissioner David Lloyd’s new responsibility for commissioning services for victims of crime.

For the year 2013/14 there were 8,792 domestic abuse incidents recorded in Hertfordshire alone but it is widely accepted that it is significantly under reported and many victims do not come forward.

The Commissioner said: “I have made clear that tackling domestic abuse is one of my biggest priorities. It is one of the few crimes where I welcome an increase in the figures because it means that more victims are feeling able to come forward. In the first few months of this year, reported offences have gone up by more than 35 per cent.”

An HMIC report in March on all police forces’ handling of domestic abuse graded Hertfordshire as ‘good’ but found improvements were needed to ensure victim needs were met. The review will help to shape the improvements being made to Hertfordshire Constabulary’s handling of domestic abuse as well as examine the other agencies and charities involved, and their processes.

The County Community Safety Unit (CCSU) which leads Hertfordshire’s domestic abuse strategy has commissioned experienced research company CAADA (Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse) to carry out a review and research. Commissioner David Lloyd is using £50,000 from his victims’ commissioning budget to pay for this vital work.

Commissioner Lloyd said: “I am funding this detailed analysis into victims’ needs because only then can we meaningfully reduce the number of people and families suffering domestic abuse and ensure that those who become victims are offered the specific support they need.

“Too many victims suffer in silence and if we can pinpoint what they need to enable them to report the abuse to police, or a third party, we can look at ways to implement that support and provide a structure for Hertfordshire in which victims feel confident about coming forward. We can also look to create support that helps to prevent abuse from escalating.”

Councillor Richard Thake, Executive Member for Community Safety at Hertfordshire County Council who oversees the work of the CCSU, welcomed the PCC’s initiative.

He said: “I expect this study to be the catalyst for a step change in how domestic abuse is dealt with in Hertfordshire.

“As a result we will better understand victims’ needs and what provisions there are for them in the county across public, private and charitable sectors. In short, we will be in a better position than ever before to support and protect victims of domestic abuse and to shape our services around them.”

CAADA have been selected for their experience, understanding and insight into domestic abuse and have a track record in working with statutory partners and voluntary/charitable sector organisations who deliver services to those affected by domestic abuse.

In relation to the CAADA review in Hertfordshire, the CCSU is seeking to gain a complete picture of demand (across gender, age, orientation, ethnicity and other factors such as health), what support organisations are available to help and protect victims of domestic abuse and the referral pathways (which can be complex and difficult to navigate) to access these services.

The review will also consider overlaps in service provision and where multiple funding pots are used to finance the same or similar organisations. The review will make recommendations on how we can enhance and develop services whilst making best use of existing resources.