Barking and Dagenham to launch domestic violence commission

The Serious Violence Summit brought together representatives from Barking and Dagenham, Havering and

The Serious Violence Summit brought together representatives from Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge. Picture: LBBD - Credit: LBBD

Barking and Dagenham is set to launch a domestic violence commission after recording the highest levels of abuse in the home in London.

The panel, which will investigate the underlying causes of domestic abuse, was announced at the first east London violent crime summit last week.

Councillor Maureen Worby said the issue was “close to her heart” and the committee will investigate the “cultural aspects that may have helped to normalise” abuse in the home.

She told the conference that after a woman died last year she saw dozens of posts on Facebook which suggested neighbours believed she was being abused.

“But she wasn’t known to us as a victim”, said Cllr Worby.

“Why did no one say anything? That was one of the moments that proved we have to be doing something different.”

Barking and Dagenham has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse in London, with more than 2,500 offences recorded in 2015/16.

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Cllr Worby added: “For this to really work people need to be involved at all levels. We have started to carefully look at underlying causes to understand what lies behind violence and to agree the support we need to provide to people at crucial moments in their lives.

“One part of this work will include the establishment of a commission which will tackle cultural aspects that may have helped to normalise domestic violence in some parts of Barking and Dagenham.”

The deputy mayor for policing and crime Sophie Linden and Detective Superintendent Neil Matthews, former head of operations for the Met’s East Area Command, were among the other speakers who described ways London was tackling violence.

Barking and Dagenham hosted the conference at LondonEast, which was also attended by representatives from Havering and Redbridge councils - the two other borough’s involved in the police’s East Area tri-borough set-up.

Ms Linden said £6.8million had been set aside by City Hall for a violence reduction unit, that plans to help reduce crime across London.

She said: “I’m really clear that the violence reduction unit is not just serious youth violence, it has to also be about domestic violence and sexual violence. We know from the work that you have been doing that often when a young person is perpetrating violence it is because they have grown up with it in the home. It is important to focus on that violence in the home.”

Spnt Matthews, who has recently moved to Croydon MPS, tearfully described how he witnessed his sister being abused by a partner when he was a child.

He told the conference: “My sister’s partner was screaming about why his dinner wasn’t on the table. I saw her being dragged around by her hair.

“A few years ago, drink driving was acceptable. We need to have the same intolerance to this level of domestic violence as we do to drink driving.”

Following the inaugural summit, which attracted more than 240 people, there are plans to host further summits across east London.

Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “Serious violence affects more than the victims and even though I recognise that it’s a London wide problem, I am passionate and determined to work with all our partners to make a real difference to all our families.

“This is just the start of our work, it won’t stop serious crime like knife crime overnight, but it’s part of our commitment to bring in solutions to help prevent future violence.”

Cllr Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, added: “Tackling serious violence is one of the biggest priorities for Barking and Dagenham, but it’s not a challenge we face alone.

“Our summit is the start of an open dialogue to understand why people get caught up in violence and to agree the work we all collectively need to do to help steer people away from violent crime.

“Going forward we’re determined to provide support for people to prevent future violence from occurring.”