Merton urges residents to report domestic violence

Merton Council and its partners are this week renewing their pledge to increase reporting and help reduce domestic violence through its support of White Ribbon Day.

Each year 25 November marks the International Day for the elimination of violence against women, also known as White Ribbon Day, and the start of the 16 days of activism against gender violence. To link in with the campaign, Safer Merton is hoping to raise awareness of the help and services available for victims of domestic violence.

From September 2008 to September 2009, 1,258 domestic crimes were reported in Merton, up 4.1% from the 1,208 reported the previous year. Of these, 75% of offenders were arrested which led to 46% of perpetrators being charged or cautioned.

This year sees the introduction of new services offering more comprehensive and supportive assistance to help victims break the cycle of violence. These include a new One Stop Shop, which offers practical support to victims of domestic violence. Advice is available on benefits, housing, victim support and much more within a safe and welcoming environment.

Whilst Women’s Aid state that 1 in 4 women are victims, the number of men reporting domestic violence incidents has also risen nationally, demonstrating a problem, which does not discriminate between sex, age or background. Between September 2008 and August 2009, 72% of victims in the borough were female and 28% were male.

Helen Harper, Acting Chief Inspector at Merton police said:
“The rise in figures does not necessarily indicate an increase in crimes occurring, but that more victims are reporting these offences. As our arrest figures demonstrate, victims of domestic abuse can feel confident that their allegations will be taken seriously and offenders should realise that the police will intervene when allegations are made”.

Cabinet Member for community safety and engagement Councillor Henry Nelless said:

“At Merton Council we are committed to working with our partners to raise awareness of this issue and to do all we can to reduce the occurrence of domestic violence. It is not something to be kept behind closed doors, and we offer a range of services to support victims of this crime.”

Information about domestic violence and the services on offer is available in all council libraries, family centres and GP surgeries throughout the 16 days campaign. For more information on services available all year round visit http://www.merton.gov.uk/safermertondomesticviolence

Notes to editors:
· The government defines domestic violence as: ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality’.
· 16 days of activism against gender violence runs from White Ribbon Day on 25 November to International Human Rights Day on 10 December
· One Stop Shop drop in sessions are run fortnightly at the New Horizon Centre, South Lodge Avenue, Mitcham, CR4 1LT. The Community Safety Unit telephone number is 020 8649 3065
. Tooting and Mitcham FC hosted the launch of the campaign at The Hub on Saturday 21 November. The football club have pledged to support the campaign and feature in posters across Merton. Photos are available of the launch.

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Press Contact:
Leoni Munslow
Communications Assistant
London Borough of Merton
020 8545 4654