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Barking and Dagenham launches London's first domestic violence commission

PUBLISHED: 17:09 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:09 04 February 2020

Maureen Worby. Picture: LBBD

Maureen Worby. Picture: LBBD

Andreas Grieger PHOTOGRAPHER

MP Jess Phillips MP will join representatives from Shelter and City Hall as Barking and Dagenham Council launches the capital's first domestic violence commission tonight, Tuesday, February 4.

The borough will unveil its blueprint for tackling intimate partner violence after recording the highest rates of domestic abuse offences in London.

It wants to make "fundamental changes" in the way its communities view abuse. It follows a survey of 2,500 secondary school children in the borough, which found 26 per cent thought it acceptable to hit your partner and 32pc thought it sometimes acceptable to use threatening language.

Over the next year the commission will explore the attitudes to domestic abuse in Barking and Dagenham before making a series of recommendations, which will aim to create a long-term change in people's attitudes towards.

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Councillor Maureen Worby, cabinet member for social care, said: "Domestic abuse is having a profound impact on our communities - and is a significant factor in homelessness, mental and physical ill-health and the costs are too high for individuals and families.

"I have launched this commission to help us look at this issue through a new lens and do something different to understand why domestic abuse is normalised within our communities."

In 2017/18 Barking and Dagenham recorded 12.8 reported domestic violence offences per 1,000 people and 28 per cent of social care assessments of children under five listed domestic violence as a factor.

Twelve experts from across the country will join officers and councillors at City Hall tonight at the event chaired by Polly Neate, chief executive of charity Shelter.

Ms Neate said: "Domestic abuse is a national crisis and is everybody's business. For all local areas across the country, there are still unanswered questions about why and how domestic abuse is normalised and tolerated.

"This is why this commission is so important, and I am honoured to be its chair. I think Barking and Dagenham Council have been incredibly brave - opening themselves up to a commission of national experts to have honest and difficult conversations. The work in Barking and Dagenham will enable us to create a blueprint nationally for how we tackle domestic abuse."

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