Domestic violence is projected to increase by 17 per cent up to 2026 in Milton Keynes if nothing is done to prevent it.
That’s one of the findings of a draft report carried out by MK Council, which also identified an annual cost to the economy of £63.8 million from the treatment of injuries, and in things like social services picking up the pieces.
Now, following a Domestic Abuse Needs Assessment, the council is looking to revamp what it is doing after a £524,994 contract it has with MK ACT ends on August 31 this year.
And tonight (Tuesday) Councillor Hannah O’Neill, the cabinet member for health and wellbeing, will be asked to use her delegated power to approve a plan to form a new five-year partnership to develop support for victims of domestic abuse.
They see the provision initially focused on the provision of refuge and crisis intervention.
Number crunchers at the council have looked at the data and say that if national data is applied to Milton Keynes: “We can estimate that around 12,300 people will have experienced domestic abuse in the past year.”
The projected increase has been based on the population of MK increasing by an average of 4,200 people per year, up to a total of 308,500 in 2026.
“The demand for domestic abuse services will increase significantly: as one of the fastest growing local authorities in the UK, without an effective prevention programme, the volume of domestic abuse is projected to grow by 17 per cent by 2026,” say the authors of the Domestic Abuse Needs Assessment 2018-2021.
But the report pulls no punches when it comes for the need to improve services in Milton Keynes.
The report’s authors say: “The work undertaken through the formulation of this needs assessment in regard to domestic abuse has confirmed the hypothesis, i.e. that the policy and evidence based approaches used to inform the strategic decisions in domestic abuse services in MK are not as cogent as they could be, and there are gaps in understanding in regard to the level of need and the services and resources deployed to address need.”
They say factors that need improving include record keeping, risk assessment, communication and information sharing, competence/knowledge/skills, multi agency working, referrals, training, and public awareness.
Domestic abuse is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
An estimated seven women are killed by a current or ex-partner each month across the country, with a further 30 women each day attempting suicide, and three taking their own lives each week.
The report’s authors say: “People often associate domestic abuse with physical assault but there is increasing recognition that emotional abuse and controlling behaviour are the daily realities of domestic abuse.
“Survivors describe this environment as making them feel they are ‘walking on eggshells’. It can happens alongside physical attacks and last for years.”
The report reveals that in Milton Keynes there were 7,784 domestic crimes and incidents in the 12 months between May 2017 and April 2018.
The vast majority of victims are women, with the young, those with a long term illness or disability, those who are bisexual, with mixed/multiple ethnicities, or living in a household with an income less than £10,000 being more likely to experience abuse.
The report also says women living in social housing were nearly three times as likely to have experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months than women who were owner occupiers.