London-leading approach prompts 9% drop in domestic abuse injuries

30 May 2019

A new approach to domestic abuse has helped survivors seek help earlier and led to a nine percent drop in injuries in Brent. The number of people reporting domestic abuse also rose seven percent as awareness spreads about abuse and services available for survivors.

The role of Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) has historically been focused on working with victims at high risk of them being harmed by partners, ex-partners or family members. In 2015, Brent Council became the first London borough to commission a domestic abuse worker specialising in 'non-crimes'.

Domestic arguments between related parties are often recorded as non-crimes. There are a number of reasons for this - once the police have been called the victim may change their mind about reporting an incident, or the perpetrator may use coercion and control to silence the victim.

The new non-crimes specialist, employed through Brent's commissioned service Advance, draws on their expert understanding to screen police incident reports for signs of abuse that may otherwise be missed, from self-injury to coercive behaviour. They review an average 450 cases every three months in Brent and make contact with around a third of these individuals to offer further support.

As a result of this work, the number of domestic abuse victims with injuries dropped from 983 in 2017 to 889 in 2018.

Councillor Tom Miller, Lead Member for Community Safety, said: "Domestic abuse kills two women in the UK every week, which is why it is so important that we get our approach right for victims. The non-crimes specialist acts as an extra safety net for those who might otherwise fly under the radar of the police and local domestic abuse services. With Advance, we've been able to support more people before abuse escalates. The results speak for themselves and I encourage other local authorities to consider this approach in their area."

Melissa Altman, Director at Advance, said: "It's great to be working with Brent Council on this project, the first of its kind in London. We know that it is critical to reach survivors as early as possible to prevent further domestic abuse and homicide. The results of this approach speak for themselves."

If you are experiencing domestic abuse or suspect that somebody may be a victim:

  • In Brent, contact Advance on 07398454898.
  • UK-wide, contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 08002000247 (run in partnership with Refuge and Women's Aid)