The aim of the strategy will help to improve the lives of victims, survivors and their children and “help make Barnsley a place where people are safe from domestic abuse”.
The strategy also sets out a business case for the recommissioning of domestic abuse services, and the procurement of a registered housing provider for the development of safe accommodation.
Data in Barnsley shows the average rate of domestic abuse incidents was 482 incidents per month in 2017/18, which had risen to 602 incidents per month in March 2021 – an an increase of 25 per cent.
During the period April 2019 – June 2021, there was a monthly average of 567 domestic abuse incidents reported to the police in Barnsley.
The strategy states that “there was a very clear spike during the first six months of lockdown, where monthly averages were at 637”.
It adds: “Barnsley’s incident rate is relatively high compared to neighbouring cities. It is not as high as Doncaster’s, but higher than Rotherham’s and Sheffield’s incident rates.
“There is also a considerable demand for accommodation support. The number of referrals into the refuge has continued to increase every year since the start of the contract in 2017.”
The current refuge in Barnsley is currently oversubscribed, and “does not afford any opportunities to comfortably house women with more than one child.”
There is an absence of refuge spaces for the increasing number of men identified as experiencing abuse, and for women with older teenage sons, adds the report.
To address this, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council is set to use a property which is “currently being used, elsewhere” to offer a day support venue for women.
The established refuge could then change its use, to offer a ‘concierge’ service so that “the more complex clients can access 24-hour support”, adds the report.
One and two bed properties will also be procured by a housing provider on the council’s behalf “for the use of housing domestic abuse victims in perpetuity”.
Councillor Caroline Makinson, cabinet spokesperson for public health and communities, said: “We’re committed to making sure that people can access the right support, at the right time, and at the right place.
“It’s really important that those who are in abusive relationships can access the help that they need and know that there is support available.
“We are already really proud of our domestic abuse services in Barnlsey, and as we look to the future we want to make sure that they are the best that they can be to support anyone who is affected by abuse.”
For more information on domestic abuse visit barnsley.gov.uk/speakup or call IDAS on its free 24-hour helpline at 03000 110 110.