Northamptonshire crime commissioner says high level of domestic abuse crimes keeps him awake at night

More than 16,000 domestic abuse crimes were recorded in Northamptonshire in the 12 months from December 2018.
More than 16,000 domestic abuse crimes were recorded in Northamptonshire in the 12 months from December 2018.

Northamptonshire’s crime commissioner has said the county’s domestic abuse rates ‘scare the living daylights out of him’ and keep him awake at night.

Police, fire and crime commissioner Stephen Mold made the comments at a meeting this week where the latest crime figures for the county were discussed.

Commissioner Mold's job - which is up for re-election in May - is to hold the force to account.

Commissioner Mold's job - which is up for re-election in May - is to hold the force to account.

The latest statistics show that between December 2018 and November 2019 16,060 domestic abuse crimes were recorded in Northamptonshire which amounts to 26 per cent of the total recorded crime. Northants police say this is a growing proportion.

Mr Mold, an elected politician whose job is to hold the Northamptonshire force to account on behalf of residents, said: “Do these numbers scare the living daylights out of me and keep me awake? They definitely do. Only through a joined up approach are we going to solve this and everyone recognising they are playing their part.”

He added: “It will always be very high in m police and crime plan. I dream of a day when it is not going to be there but I don’t see that anytime soon.”

Commissioner Mold said too many domestic abuse crimes happened when children were present. He also said he was hopeful the new unitary councils being created in April 2021 would lead to a more joined up approach between housing and safeguarding services.

The report by the commissioner’s office, which was discussed at this week’s (Jan 6) police and crime panel meeting, said: “The force has seen an increase in the proportion that are crimes, reflecting the identification of threat, harm, risk and vulnerability that exists and the more serious nature of reports.

Recorded levels are hard to compare with other forces due to an incomplete national picture. 12 per cent of domestic abuse crimes are positively resolved with a police sanction, but 44 per cent of domestic abuse crime sees positive action taken including voluntary attendance and linked crimes.”

He said there was a mixture of initiatives the force was doing to tackle domestic abuse. In November the #cutitout campaign was launched to help train hairdressers and beauticians in how to spot the signs of domestic abuse in their customers and how to safely refer the person to an organisation that could help.

In 2019 the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner spent or allocated £427,000 towards domestic abuse services, which included £142,000 towards the Sunflower centre which provides specialist support to the highest risk victims. It also spent £50,000 to fund Project PIPA (Preventing Intimate Partner Abuse), a pilot project where offenders in certain domestic abuse incidents considered to be ‘low harm’ are given a conditional caution if they agree to take part in a programme that helps them gain an insight into their behaviour and reduce the likelihood that they will re offend. £200,000 was also allocated to the victims service Voice, which supports medium or standard risk victims.

A county-wide domestic abuse strategy was launched in October to bring together all the agencies, such as councils, police and specialist agencies.

However the funding of refuge services has dropped in recent years.

Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Services (NDAS) saw its £200,000 annual grant from Northamptonshire County Council end in April 2019 and now receives just £35,000 local funding from Northampton Borough Council and East Northamptonshire Council to pay for its refuges.

The other Northamptonshire local authorities do not fund the service and NDAS is relying on its charitable reserves to keep its six refuges across the county running.