Stats & Facts
Here’s some key stats & facts on domestic abuse:
- NICE states 2,000,000 adults live with domestic abuse every year
- 20% increase of sex crimes against under 11’s
- Everyday Sexism: 60% 11-21yr olds had comment about their appearance
- At least 1 in 4 women in the UK will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime (British Crime Survey (BCS) 2010/11)
- Domestic violence accounts for 18% of all violent incidents (crime in England and Wales 2010/11),
- 7% of women and 5% of men reported having experienced any domestic violence in 2010/11
- In the 2010-11 BCS, 73% of incidents of domestic violence were experienced by repeat victims, and of the victims interviewed, just under half were victimised more than once, and nearly a quarter were victimised three or more times
- Every year around 400,000 women are sexually assaulted and 80,000 women raped (BCS 2010/11)
- Domestically, the cost of providing public services (including health, legal and social services) to victims and the lost economic output of women affected runs to billions of pounds. An indicative figure for the minimum and overlapping cost of violence against women and girls is £36.7 billion annually
- In January to December 2010 the forced marriage unit received 1735 reports relating to possible forced marriage, and provided direct support in 469 assistance and immigration cases
- Approximately 66,000 women with female genital mutilation are living in England and Wales
Source: Home Office website
Making a safety plan
A personal safety plan is a way of helping you to protect yourself and your children. It helps you plan in advance for the possibility of future violence and abuse. It also helps you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave.
You can't stop your partner's violence and abuse - only he can do that. But there are things you can do to increase your own and your children's safety. You’re probably already doing some things to protect yourself and your children – for example, there may be a pattern to the violence which may enable you to plan ahead to increase your safety.
Plan in advance how you might respond in different situations, including crisis situations.
Think about the different options that may be available to you.
- Keep with you any important and emergency telephone numbers (for example, your local Women's Aid refuge organisation or other domestic violence service; the police domestic violence unit; your GP; your social worker, if you have one; your children's school; your solicitor; Teach your children to call 999 in an emergency, and what they would need to say (for example, their full name, address and telephone number).
- Are there neighbours you could trust, and where you could go in an emergency? If so, tell them what is going on, and ask them to call the police if they hear sounds of a violent attack.
- Rehearse an escape plan, so in an emergency you and the children can get away safely.
- If you are planning on leaving your partner ensure that essential document are stored in a place that you can easily access. i.e together in a corner of the drawer.
- Try to keep a small amount of money on you at all times - including change for the phone and for bus fares.
- Know where the nearest phone is, and if you have a mobile phone, try to keep it with you.
- If you suspect that your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower risk area of the house - for example where there is a way out and access to a telephone. Avoid the kitchen or garage where there are likely to be knives or other weapons; and avoid rooms where you might be trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.
- Be prepared to leave the house in an emergency.
Preparing to leave
Whatever coping strategies you have used – with more or less success - there may come a time when you feel the only option is to leave your partner.
If you do decide to leave your partner, it is best if you can plan this carefully. Sometimes abusers will increase their violence if they suspect you are thinking of leaving, and will continue to do so after you have left, so this can be a particularly dangerous time for you. It’s important to remember that ending the relationship will not necessarily end the abuse
Plan to leave at a time you know your partner will not be around. Try to take everything you will need with you, including any important documents relating to yourself and your children, as you may not be able to return later. Take your children with you, otherwise it may be difficult or impossible to have them living with you in future. If they are at school, make sure that the head and all your children's teachers know what the situation is, and who will be collecting the children in future. (See below, Protecting yourself after you have left).
Thinking about leaving and making the decision to leave can be a long process. Planning it doesn't mean you have to carry it through immediately - or at all. But it may help to be able to consider all the options and think about how you could overcome the difficulties involved. If at all possible, try to set aside a small amount of money each week, or even open a separate bank account.
What to pack if you are planning to leave your partner
Ideally, you need to take all the following items with you if you leave. Some of these items you can try to keep with you at all times; others you may be able to pack in your 'emergency bag'.
Some form of identification.
Birth certificates for you and your children.
Passports (including passports for all your children), visas and work permits.
Money, bankbooks, cheque book and credit and debit cards.
Keys for house, car, and place of work. (You could get an extra set of keys cut, and put them in your emergency bag.)
Cards for payment of Child Benefit and any other welfare benefits you are entitled to.
Driving licence (if you have one) and car registration documents, if applicable.
Copies of documents relating to your housing tenure (for example, mortgage details or lease and rental agreements).
Insurance documents, including national insurance number.
Family photographs, your diary, jewellery, small items of sentimental value.
Clothing and toiletries for you and your children.
Your children's favourite small toys.
You should also take any documentation relating to the abuse - e.g. police reports, court orders such as injunctions and restraining orders, and copies of medical records if you have them.
Protecting yourself after you have left
If you leave your partner because of abuse, you may not want people to know the reason you left. It is your decision whether or not you tell people that you have suffered domestic violence; but if you believe you may still be at risk, it might increase your safety if you tell your family and friends, your children's school, and your employer or college what is happening, so that they do not inadvertently give out any information to your ex-partner. They will also be more prepared and better able to help you in an emergency.
If you have left home, but are staying in the same town or area, these are some of the ways in which you might be able to increase your safety:
Try not to place yourself in a vulnerable position or isolate yourself.
Try to avoid any places, such as shops, banks, cafes, that you used to use when you were together.
Try to alter your routines as much as you can.
If you have any regular appointments that your partner knows about (for example, with a counsellor or health practitioner) try to change your appointment time and/or the location of the appointment.
Try to choose a safe route, or alter the route you take or the form of transport you use, when approaching or leaving places you cannot avoid - such as your place of work, the children's school, or your GP's surgery.
- Tell your children's school, nursery or childminder what has happened, and let them know who will pick them up. Make sure they do not release the children to anyone else, or give your new address or telephone number to anyone. (You may want to establish a password with them, and give them copies of any court orders, if you have them.)
- Consider telling your employer or others at your place of work - particularly if you think your partner may try to contact you there.
- If you have moved away from your area, and don't want your abuser to know where you are, then you need to take particular care with anything that may indicate your location; for example:
- Your mobile phone could be 'tracked'; this is only supposed to happen if you have given your permission, but if your partner has had access to your mobile phone, he could have sent a consenting message purporting to come from you. If you think this could be the case, you should contact the company providing the tracking facility and withdraw your permission; or if you are in any doubt, change your phone.
- Try to avoid using shared credit or debit cards or joint bank accounts: if the statement is sent to your ex-partner, he will see the transactions you have made.
- Make sure that your address does not appear on any court papers. (If you are staying in a refuge, they will advise you on this.)
- If you need to phone your abuser (or anyone with whom he is in contact), make sure your telephone number is untraceable by dialling 141 before ringing.
- Talk to your children about the need to keep your address and location confidential.
- Victims of stalking and domestic violence are now allowed to join the electoral register anonymously, so ensure they are not put at risk, and do not lose the right to vote. Anyone wanting to register their details anonymously must provide evidence such as an order under the Family Law Act 1996 or the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. If an application is granted, the details that appear on the register only have a person's electoral number and the letter N.
If you stay or return to your home after your partner has left, then you will probably have an occupation order or a protection order (see Getting an injunction). If the injunction has powers of arrest attached, then do make sure that your local police station has a copy, and that the police know that they need to respond quickly in an emergency. In some areas, there are special schemes to ensure a rapid response by the police (for example, the Community Alarm scheme in the London Borough of Haringey); and in other areas there may be projects (such as Staying Put in Bradford, and the Sanctuary Projects in Barnet and Bromley) that provide advice and additional security measures to make your home safe. However, it is important to know that you do not have to stay at home - with or without an injunction - if you do not feel safe there.
You could also consider the following:
- Changing the locks on all doors.
- Putting locks on all windows if you don't have them already.
- Installing smoke detectors on each floor, and providing fire extinguishers.
- Installing an outside light (back and front) which comes on automatically when someone approaches.
- Informing the neighbours that your partner no longer lives there, and asking them to tell you - or call the police - if they see him nearby.
- Changing your telephone number and making it ex-directory.
- Using an answering machine to screen calls.
- Keeping copies of all court orders together with dates and times of previous incidents and call-outs for reference if you need to call the police again.
- If your ex-partner continues to harass, threaten or abuse you, make sure you keep detailed records of each incident, including the date and time it occurred, what was said or done, and, if possible, photographs of damage to your property or injuries to yourself or others. If your partner or ex-partner injures you, see your GP or go to hospital for treatment and ask them to document your visit. If you have an injunction with a power of arrest, or there is a restraining order in place, you should ask the police to enforce this; and if your ex-partner is in breach of any court order, you should also tell your solicitor. See Getting an injunction and the Police and the criminal prosecution process for further information on legal options.
- In an emergency, always call the police on 999.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme
This leaflet is for you if you are concerned that someone you know may be in a relationship and at risk of domestic violence
What is the Domestic Violence
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is a national scheme that has been set up to give members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquiries to Police about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, and there is a concern that the individual may be abusive towards their partner.
What is the aim of the scheme?
The aim of the scheme is to give you, a third party, a mechanism to make enquiries about the partner of a friend or a member of your family if you are worried that this individual may have been violent or abusive in the past. If Police checks show that this individual has a record of abusive offences, or there is other information to indicate that your friend/family member may be at risk from the individual, the Police will consider sharing this information.
Where there is a risk and there is a need to provide information, the scheme aims to give these partners information that will enable them to make an informed choice on whether to continue their relationship. The scheme also aims to provide help and support when making that choice.
Who can ask for a disclosure?
A disclosure under this scheme is the sharing of specific information about the partner either with your friend/family member, you or someone else who is best placed to use the information to protect your friend/family member from Domestic Violence.
You can make an application to Police about the partner if you have a concern that they may harm your friend/family member.
Under the scheme, a person can make an application themselves if they have concerns about their partner, and there is a separate guidance leaflet for those making an application for themselves.
Who would a disclosure be made to?
Just because you have made an application does not mean that you are the best placed person to receive information about the partner if a decision is made to make a disclosure. Usually disclosures under the scheme would be made directly to the individual at risk, unless it is more appropriate to involve
a third party. If you or someone else is approached with information, this is done in order to protect the friend/family member from abuse. In certain circumstances, you as the applicant may not be informed whether a disclosure has or has not been made.
How does the Scheme work?
The first thing you need to do if you want to make an application under the scheme is contact your local Police. There are four stages to the process.
Stage One: Making an application
When you attend a Police Station to make an application, a Police Officer or member of Police Staff will take the details of what prompted your enquiry. A safe means of contacting you and the person you are concerned about will be established. You will need to give your name, address and date of birth.
The Police will run some checks based on the information you have provided to establish if there are any immediate concerns. If when speaking to the Police you make a criminal allegation against the partner, for example, that the partner has hit your friend/family member, then the Police are required by law to record and investigate the crime.
No disclosure of information will take place at this stage unless it is necessary to provide immediate protection to your friend/family member.
If the Police believe they are at risk and in need of protection from harm, they will take immediate action.
Stage Two : Face to face meeting to complete the application
Depending on the outcome of Stage One, you may be required to participate in a face to face meeting with an officer from the Police’s Community Safety Unit. During this meeting you will need to provide further details about the nature of your relationship with your friend/family member and their partner.
This meeting will be with a specialist officer and will establish further details about your application in order to assess any risk. You will be required to provide proof of your identity - this should comprise two forms of ID. At least one of these should be photo ID. Forms of ID that could be used are your passport, driving licence, a household utility bill, your bank statement or your birth certificate.
The Police will use the information gathered at the meeting to decide if your friend/family member is at risk from domestic abuse. As well as using Police held information, Police will also work with partner agencies such as Social
Services, the Prison Service and the Probation Service to get as full a picture of any risk as possible.
Police will aim to process the application, complete all the checks and, if appropriate, make a disclosure within no more than 35 days.
The Police will act immediately if at any point they consider your friend/family member to be at risk and in need of protection from harm.
Stage Three: Multi-agency forum considers disclosure
The Police will liaise with other safeguarding agencies (such as Social Services, the Probation Service, the Prison service) to discuss the information you have provided. The Police and the other agencies may also have additional information relevant to your application.
This multi-agency forum will then decide if any disclosure of information is necessary, lawful and proportionate to protect your friend/family member from their partner. If a decision is made to disclose information, the forum will decide who should receive the information and set up a safety plan tailored to the needs of your friend/family member to provide them with help and support.
Stage Four : Potential Disclosure
If the checks show that the partner has a record of abusive offences or there is other information that indicates hat there is a pressing need to make a disclosure to prevent further crime, the Police may disclose this information to your friend/family member or to a person who is more able to protect them, which may be you.
An individual’s previous convictions are treated as confidential and the information will only be disclosed if it is lawful, proportionate and there is a pressing need to make the disclosure to prevent further crime.
If it is decided that a disclosure is to be made, this may not be to you. This may be where the disclosure is to be made directly to your friend/family member or it is decided that there is another person better placed to use the information to protect your friend/family member from abuse.
If the checks do not show that there is a pressing need to make a disclosure to prevent further crime, Police may inform you of this. This may be because the partner does not have a record of abusive offences or there is no information held to indicate they pose a risk of harm to your friend/family member. Or it may be that some information is held on the partner but this is not sufficient to demonstrate a pressing need for disclosure.
It may be the case that the partner is not known to the police for abusive offences or there is insufficient information to indicate they pose a risk of harm to your friend/family member but they are showing worrying behaviour.
In this case, the Police or other support agencies can work with you and your friend/family member by providing advice and support.
How to use disclosed information
You should be aware that Police checks and any disclosure made are not a guarantee of safety. The Police will, however, give you advice on how to best protect your friend/family member and will make you aware of what local and national support is available.
Who can I tell?
If you receive a disclosure it should be treated as confidential. Information is only being given to you so that you an take steps to protect your friend/family member. You must not share this information with anyone else unless you have spoken to the Police, or the person who gave you the information, and they have agreed with you that it can be shared. You should discuss with Police if you want to discuss what you have been told with your friend/ family member.
Subject to the condition that the information is kept confidential, you can:
- use the information to make decisions about your friend/family member’s safety
- use the information to make decisions about keeping any children involved in the situation safe
- use the information to seek further support from Police and other agencies
- seek further advice on how to keep your friend/family member safe
The Police may decide not to give you information if they think that you will discuss it with others.
However, the Police will still take steps to protect your friend/family member if they are at risk of harm.
The Police may take action against you if the information is disclosed without their consent, which could include civil or criminal proceedings. You should be aware that it is an offence (under Section 55 of the Data Protection Act1998) for a person to ‘knowingly or recklessly obtain or disclose personal data without the consent of the data controller’ which in this case is usually the Police.
If no disclosure is made but you still have concerns the Police can provide you with information and advice on how to protect your friend/family member and how to recognise the warning signs of domestic abuse. There are also a number of specialist services and organisations providing information about domestic abuse, how to spot it, and how to work with the authorities to intervene.
Right to know
Under the Scheme, you may receive a disclosure evenif you have not asked for one. That is because, if the Police receive information about a person you know which they consider puts them at risk of harm from domestic abuse, they may consider disclosing that information to you if they consider that you are the best placed person to use that information to protect that individual from harm. Information can be disclosed where Police feel there isa right to know this information. When you have not asked for a disclosure but one is made the disclosure will only be made if it is lawful and proportionate.
What is the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme? (Sarah’s Law)
The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme allows parents, carers, guardians or another interested party to ask the police to check if an individual who has contact with a child has a record for child sexual offences.
If police checks show the individual has a record for child sexual offences, or other offences that might put the child at risk, the police will consider sharing this information with the person(s) best placed to protect the child, usually the parent, carer or guardian.
The police will disclose information only if it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so in the interests of protecting the child, or children, from harm.
Who is the scheme for?
The scheme is for any member of the public who wants to find out if an individual in contact with a child has a record of child sexual offences. They may have no specific reason to be worried but are just being careful. A single mother, for example, may want to find out a bit more about her new partner before asking them to move in. The police will only consider telling the person best placed to protect the child – usually a parent, carer or guardian – if the person being checked has a record of child sexual offences or other offences that indicate they may pose a risk to a child.
How does the scheme help?
The purpose of this scheme is to help to protect children from harm. The majority of child sexual offenders are known to their victims. They are often someone who has some form of access to a child e.g. a friend of the victim’s family, a friend of the victim, or a member of the victim’s family. The scheme can provide information to parents, carers and guardians about people involved in their children’s lives. The police can also provide guidance on how to spot warning signs of abuse in both their children and individuals that are in contact with their children, that will help them to better safeguard their children.
How do I make an application
It is important to remember that anyone can make an application to the police about an individual who has contact with a child or children. Contacting the police There are many different ways to contact the police. You can:
- visit a police station;
- phone the non-emergency telephone number for the police (unless you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to a child. Then you should call 999);
- speak to a member of the police on the street.
Your police force may also offer other ways of contacting them. They will advertise these locally.
What else is done to keep children safe?
Every police force already has a public protection team to manage sexual and violent offenders and protect children from harm. This scheme is about ensuring people can speak to the police about their concerns in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously. It sets up a formal process for members of the public to register their concerns and to receive feedback on how those concerns were acted upon. In allowing members of the public to register their interest in a named individual, the authorities may become aware of a relationship between a child and a registered sex offender of which they were not previously aware.
You can contact the Police on 101 - in an emergency always ring 999
If you would like additional help and support on domestic abuse then you can contact any of the following
national helplines –
Domestic Violence Helpline
0808 2000 247 - www.womensaid.org.uk
Free 24 hour national helpline run by Women’s Aid and Refuge.
0300 999 5428 - www.broken-rainbow.org.uk
Support for LGBT victims of domestic abuse.
Men’s Advice Line
0808 801 0327 - www.mensadviceline.org.uk
Confidential helpline for male victims of domestic violence and abuse.
National Centre for Domestic Violence
0844 8044 999 - www.ncdv.org.uk
A charity that specialises in providing assistance to obtain injunctions to prevent further abuse.
Victim Support Service
0845 3030900 - www.victimsupport.org
National charity giving free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, their family and friends.