Last Thursday’s meeting heard from Caitriona Scanlan, the Community Safety Partnership’s Domestic Violence Strategy & Services Manager on efforts to tackle. domestic and sexual violence in Camden.
She noted that some 50% of violence in London is domestic, and said what was particularly horrifying was that many women killed by partners or former partners had not previously been known to any of the agencies that might have helped them.
She said that annually just under 2,000 incidents of domestic abuse are being reported to police, but reported to represent only about 25-48% of actual incidents.
With every incident there is an attempt made to contact the victim to do a risk assessment by the Camden Safety Net (which contacts about 200 victims a month).
Where there is judged to be a serious risk, a “multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARIC)” is held. Some 12-14 cases a month go through this process.
“Medium risk” cases are referred to Solace Women’s Aid and victim support work with “standard risk” victims.
One big issue was providing support to victims during court hearings – Camden was working with Islington to form a special domestic violence court, and a “wrap-around” advocacy service that ensure an advocate was available to assist victims at any time.
One the investigation of sexual crimes, the Sapphire Unit has been centralised since last September, in the “SCD2″ in Islington, but there had been “quite a few teething problems”.
Catriona said Camden had seen an increase in rape of young women and girls involving multiple perpetrators, sometimes involving gangs.
There were also cases of violence by young people against their mothers – the last MARIC had seen three of these.
Supt Rodger Smalley said that arrests were made at about 75% of domestic violence calls.
Catriona said the new rape crisis provision for Camden (for which Matty Mitford of Camden Green Party and Boris Keep Your Promise was a highly successful campaigner) should start from September, provided by an existing organisation.
We can only hope that the victim-centred ethos traditional in rape crisis centres is appropriately provided.