Sunderland 'too accepting' of domestic abuse, warns chief

Some on Wearside are ‘too accepting’ of domestic abuse, according to one of the bosses tasked with overseeing the overhaul of children’s services in Sunderland.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 12:03 pm

It is estimated the problem, which includes controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, as well as sexual violence, costs the city more than £300million every year.

The latest figures have shown the number of domestic abuse incidents reported in which a child was also present rose to 3,216 in 2018/19 – up by almost a tenth compared to the previous year.

“We see too many young women who think it is ok to be hit and it is just what blokes do,” said Sir Paul Ennals, independent chairman of the Sunderland Safeguarding Children Board.

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“The idea that is alright is something we need to change, it’s not just a Sunderland issue but it is a Sunderland issue and we have higher rates than across the rest of the country.

“We, as a culture and as a city, are too accepting of domestic abuse as somehow being alright.”

Sir Paul was speaking at a meeting of Sunderland City Council’s Children, Education and Skills Scrutiny Committee.

The safeguarding board helps coordinate and oversee the work of various organisations which work with children and young people, including the city council’s children’s services department.

Operation Encompass, an organisation which supports children who have been involved in a domestic abuse incident, received 2,895 referrals in Sunderland in 2018/19.

Sir Paul said figures around domestic abuse, as well as alcohol abuse and obesity, in the city were ‘worrying’, but added there were positive signs on the quality of Wearside’s schools and health services.

Considering the board’s annual report for 2018/19, Coun Phil Tye warned there was too much focus on safeguarding in education at the expense of other areas.

There were 26,567 domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by Northumbria Police during that 12-month period, up from 20,419 the previous year.

It means that 17% of all recorded crimes in the force area in 2018-19 were domestic abuse-related, compared to the England and Wales average of 14%.