Evidence base – Violent crime including domestic abuse
Violent crime is a priority for the partnership not only because of the costs incurred by partner agencies who deal with it, but also because of the severe physical and mental impacts it can have on victims and perpetrators. Levels of recorded violent crime have risen across South Gloucestershire in the past 12 months and although changes in how violent crimes are recorded will have played a part in that rise, there is also an ongoing challenge in terms of how to deal with the many different types of violent offences occurring across the district. Levels of domestic and sexual violence offences reported to the police have risen by 40%, for example, and while we are encouraging reporting of these offences there is of course a huge concern over the number of victims that this represents.
A partnership approach has been shown to be effective in dealing with violent crime, with the reduction in night-time economy reports in Kingswood showing that results can be achieved when agencies work together to tackle the problem. The closure of BarCelona on Kingswood High Street (which has contributed to the reduction in offences in Kingswood but a possible increase in Chipping Sodbury) was a multi-agency effort. The pilot project to support medium-risk domestic abuse victims who are below the MARAC threshold but at risk of escalation will be important going forward.
Many different types of people are impacted by violence, with some vulnerable victims experiencing violence multiple times and young people being the most likely victims of other young people perpetrating violent offences. Our night-time economy still remains an issue of concern, with the interplay between alcohol and violence being considered and discussed in detail by the strategic assessment working group. The highest number of night-time economy-related calls to the police were recorded in Chipping Sodbury, Kingswood and Patchway, although it’s worth noting that Kingswood saw a fall of 24% (n=-71) over the past 12 months whereas Chipping Sodbury saw an increase of 58% (n=+31).
This priority includes domestic abuse as a particular focus because of the severe impact on victims and their families. A worrying downward trend has been identified in the detection rate for domestic abuse offences, as well as a reduction in the number of cases being fully resolved. Referral levels to Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) have reduced by 3% compared to the previous year and the loss of the MARAC annual report has resulted in a number of gaps in data that the strategic assessment has previously relied on. This issue is discussed in more detail in the ‘Data’ section of the assessment. There has been an increase in domestic abuse reports from housing tenants, with Kingswood being identified as the area with the highest number of reports, and the probation caseload has seen increasing levels of domestic violence.