UCS publishes research on domestic abuse

A far-reaching, independent report published by University Campus Suffolk (UCS) today (Tuesday 3 March 2015) takes an unprecedented look at how victims of domestic abuse consider they are supported in the county.

The research, commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore and led by UCS’s Senior Lecturer Dr Emma Bond, considers verbatim data drawn from individual interviews and focus groups based on the experiences of 69 Suffolk survivors (63 females and 6 males) who volunteered to take part in the study.

The university also interviewed 16 police officers and 24 professionals working directly with people affected by domestic violence and abuse across the county.

Tim Passmore said, “Since being elected as Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, I have placed great emphasis on the need to keep victims at the heart of our services. This is especially relevant to dealing with domestic abuse; it is an integral part of my Police and Crime Plan and one of our top priorities.

“One thing that became clear to me very quickly when engaging with victims across the county is that we need to look for ways to understand and deal with domestic abuse better to ensure we fully support survivors of this terrible crime. I know that all services involved in delivering domestic violence support to victims are committed to dealing with domestic abuse, but it is difficult to deal with an issue unless you really understand the extent of the problem. This really helps us to get beneath the statistics and really understand how it feels for victims when they are feeling scared and isolated.”

He added, “I realised that the research by UCS would be a sobering lesson to us all, but it will really help us to understand what we are dealing with here in Suffolk. I believe this research will help us to understand the extent of the problem better. It should help us to formulate an action plan so that we can greatly reduce this terrible crime as a matter of urgency.”

The focus of the project was to examine the perceptions and experiences of a particularly vulnerable and marginalised group during their journey through the criminal justice process.

Dr Emma Bond from University Campus Suffolk said “The report has identified many areas of good practice in relation to the support victims and survivors of domestic violence have received. Many agencies in Suffolk acknowledge the importance of partnership working, inter-professional practice, and that domestic violence must be addressed in ways that recognise that solutions must be as much proactive and preventative as reactive.”

“As the national research published in the Guardian last week highlighted victims often suffer years of abuse before they get the help they need. While the Suffolk study found a number of examples of best practice that deserve commendation, the participants’ accounts nevertheless point to failure at many levels in the way some survivors and their families are treated by the agencies who should be supporting them. The report recommends that the findings of this report be included as part of an independent countywide strategic review of service delivery, conducted with all relevant stakeholders including survivors and their families.”

The research was undertaken across Suffolk between May and December 2014.

It was based on four main objectives:

To provide a detailed understanding of the perceptions and experiences of survivors of domestic violence and abuse relating to their journey through the criminal justice system.

To identify survivors’ perceptions of current support and service provision currently available.

To identify barriers to engaging with current support and services, and consider how these may be overcome.

To consider what types and levels of support and services survivors of domestic violence and abuse would like to be able to access in order to shape an innovative approach to providing appropriate support.

Full report

Executive summary