Tackling scale of domestic violence problem in Leeds is top priority

Coun Lisa Mulherin
Coun Lisa Mulherin

DOMESTIC violence has played a significant factor in dozens of death in Leeds, a new report reveals.

More than 16,000 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to police in Leeds in the 12 months to May this year - a figure Leeds City Council admits remains “too high”.

The report to today’s meeting of the council’s executive board states domestic violence has been a significant factor in 26 deaths in the city since 2011.

Children were present in around third of the 16,705 domestic violence cases and 36 per cent of the incidents involved repeat victims, the report states. Council chiefs say significant progress has been made since last year when the council identified tackling domestic violence as a key priority, leading to the setting up of the The Domestic Violence Breakthrough Project.

More than 300 Leeds GPs have undergone a training programme and four GP surgeries are taking part in a pilot project where all female patients being asked if they are experiencing domestic violence.

However, the report states: “The city has a history of working well and innovatively with victims of domestic violence but nevertherless the numbers of incidents and especially the number of repeat incidents remains too high.”

Coun Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families who chairs the domestic violence breakthrough project, said: “Domestic violence is totally unacceptable and can destroy the lives of the people directly affected and their families. We identified this as one of our top priorities as a city and have set about dealing with it from all angles to persuade more people to report incidents, improve support to those affected and tackle the issue at root cause.

“Fear of further attacks often puts people off reporting their abuse, so we’ve been putting a lot of work into encouraging them to get in touch with the people who can help. That way we can help those affected access the support they need to help protect them and break away from their abuser if needed. Faster and more consistent multi-agency responses have also been introduced through the new Front Door Safeguarding Hub. This has been supported by training for over 1,300 staff working on the frontline for the council, health and third sector agencies to make sure they respond rapidly and well if any incidents are reported to them.

“We are also determined to face the issue full-on and have started developing work with perpetrators of domestic violence to address and deal with abusive behaviour.”