As we say on Twitter ﹟NeverDullinHull

Some of you might be thinking about the football match against Newcastle yesterday…but I am referring to my visit to Hull last week to meet the Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Grove and his team, including Deputy PCC, Paul Robinson.  I left with three thoughts.

Firstly, I was really struck by the strength of leadership and commitment to this issue from the PCC.  There is an energy in Matthew’s approach and an openness to new ideas and approaches which is great.  I contrast his comments which ran something along the lines of: “Domestic abuse has to be the issue that we can get everyone united around – it is just obvious – look at the human and financial costs,” with the description I was given of domestic abuse by someone when I started CAADA which was more like: “The biggest human issue that is impossible to get support for.”  We really need leaders among the new local and regional commissioners who share his focus and ability to connect the impact of domestic abuse with so many other related issues – and the need to address them for victims, for children and for perpetrators.

The second thought was about the multi-agency team including IDVAs, a duty team, police, children’s services, alcohol misuse specialist, health practitioner, MARAC coordinator and male victim service.  All in one room.  How many other places in the UK have all those disciplines (and I am sure that I have forgotten someone), all in one room.  Hardly a radical concept you might think given the co-morbidity of domestic abuse with these other issues, but I would guess that I could count such teams on the fingers of both hands – and possibly just one.  Again, I suspect that there has been some great local leadership to make this happen, including from the terrific Domestic Violence Coordinator.

Finally, there is a real commitment in Hull to engage with perpetrators of domestic abuse to address their behaviour through the Strength to Change programme which takes self referrals from men who use violence and abuse against their partners.  This programme uses a combination of individual sessions and group sessions to help men change their behaviour.  It will be very interesting to see how this develops as the programme is evaluated in future, and indeed whether this can be used for wider forms of violence.  The data from the initial evaluation highlights both the experiences of the men on the programme (roughly half were care leavers and 60% had been victims of violent crime and the different levels of engagement depending on a range of variables, including employment and children.

Hull in particular, and Humberside more broadly, are not easy areas to work in when it comes to domestic abuse.  However, with strong leadership at several levels, it is clear that the commitment and skill of front line practitioners can be channeled to great effect.  So all we need to find now is a magic wand for cloning….

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