WIGAN authorities have united to help raise awareness of domestic violence and help victims speak out.
Greater Manchester Police and the council will be visiting the borough’s schools, hospitals and Youth Zone to help residents recognise and report abuse. And Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust bosses have said staff are to receive special training to identify signs of domestic violence.
Domestic abuse is not currently a specific offence, but a bill soon to go through Parliament, if passed, would change the law meaning offenders could be sentenced to up to 14 years behind bars.
There has been a one per cent rise in the number of domestic violence cases in Wigan borough last year. Coun Kevin Anderson, cabinet member for safer communities, said: “While worrying, the increase in the number of incidents reported is encouraging. The figures show that our aim to encourage more victims to speak out and get help is working so this is positive news. Research shows that growing up in an abusive home can have a serious impact on the way that a child behaves in the future. That’s why our approach is preventative. We need to ensure that children know what domestic abuse is from the start, to understand what a healthy relationship looks like and to speak out if there’s something wrong.”
As part of a national awareness week, Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, voiced concerns about a European Agency for Fundamental Rights survey that found almost half of women in the UK have suffered domestic abuse. He said: “These figures highlight in the starkest terms how much is left to be done to ensure that victims of domestic abuse are supported and offenders brought to justice.
“That 44 per cent of women have been subjected to some form of abuse, whether physical, sexual or psychological, is shocking. Of course, domestic abuse doesn’t just affect women as many men and children suffer as well. It’s a blight on our society, but the good news is that help is out there.”
GMP has introduced Clare’s Law. If someone is worried about their partner’s past, they have a right to inquire if they have committed past offences.
The law is named after Clare Wood, from Salford, who had complained to police about her partner before her death in 2009.
WWL plans to adopt recommendations by watchdog the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence that medical staff should receive training to help them ask about abuse and encourage patients to seek help.