Call to clampdown on 'stain on society' of domestic abuse in Sunderland

Councillors in Sunderland have called for a clampdown on perpetrators of domestic abuse, and stressed the importance of communicating with people from all backgrounds in tackling the issue.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 3:56 pm

Sunderland City Council Cabinet approved the area’s draft Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation and Support Services Strategy 2021-2024 last month, with the document now being consulted on.

To help form the plans, council chiefs have spoken to survivors of domestic abuse and the Sunderland Domestic Abuse and Violence Against Women and Girls Executive Board, who helped develop a needs assessment.

As part of engagement plans, the strategy went before councillors on the City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday evening.

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There have been fresh calls to clampdown on domestic abuse in Sunderland.

Cllr Michael Butler said he was happy to see survivors being consulted in forming the draft policy, and hit out at those behind incidents of domestic abuse.

The Labour councillor said: “I think we all know that women are the main victims of domestic abuse by a longshot and we shouldn’t lose sight of that.

“I think this is a stain on society and I think we need to really clampdown on perpetrators of domestic abuse.

“It absolutely wrecks lives and only serves to promote intergenerational trauma that I’m sure many of us have experienced throughout our lives.”

Meanwhile, Cllr Neil MacKnight, chair of the committee, said there is a “really clear public health message” in regards to links between domestic abuse and other issues.

He said: “What’s striking as well, and I think it’s actually referenced in the report, is that there is definitely a clear link between domestic violence and social deprivation.

“There is a clear link in an awful lot of cases with alcohol misuse.”

Cllr Martin Haswell said he broadly welcomed the strategy, adding it was good to see the focus on engaging with survivors networks and community groups.

However the Liberal Democrat representative raised concerns over the lack of mention of communicating with groups supporting black and ethnic minority women and the LGBTQ+ community.

He added they both face proportionally higher levels of domestic abuse.

He said: “The action plan just completely doesn’t reference them so I think we need to focus on that.

“We’re citing some really strong best practice and then choosing to completely ignore it for black people, for gay people, I just don’t understand why, this is a complete oversight.”

Gerry Taylor, executive director of Public Health and integrated commissioning on Sunderland City Council, who presented the report, said she would take the “helpful comments” back ahead of the final report being drawn up.

Engagement will now continue ahead of the final document going back before Cabinet in the near future.

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