Domestic violence is still a serious problem

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Doncaster remains a national hotspot for the problem of domestic violence, councillors will be told next week.

A report to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday says it is still a ‘significant issue’ in the borough.

Between April and November 2012 there were 4,995 reported incidents – the highest domestic violence rate per head of population in South Yorkshire.

The number of high-risk cases referred to the borough’s Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference continues to increase, with 333 referrals this financial year compared to 286 the previous year – a rise of more than 16 per cent.

The committee will be told a domestic violence strategy has been completed and detailed action plans have been drawn up, which should be in place by next month. This will provide for the establishment of a Domestic Abuse Hub.

Statistics released last autumn showed 18 acts of domestic violence in the borough were being reported every day and professionals warned it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Karen Johnson, the authority’s assistant director for communities, said in her report: “Doncaster has more reports of domestic abuse incidents to the police than most other areas of the UK – around 6,700 reported incidents per year, over 120 per week, 18 per day.

“And domestic abuse is massively under reported. A conservative estimate could be that there are well over 30,000 incidents per year in Doncaster. Many children are affected by domestic abuse and we know in Doncaster domestic violence is a predominant feature in serious case reviews and child protection cases.”

The council has four Independent Domestic Violence Advocates – but should have six. It is estimated annual cost to the taxpayer is between £13m and £16.3m.

The figures follow a review earlier this year to try to draw a full picture of the position in Doncaster compared to other parts of the country.

The council has appointed two organisations to try to tackle the problem – the NSPCC and independent research body the Kafka Brigade.