Domestic violence and hate crime top of health board’s agenda

Domestic violence and hate crime were top of the agenda of the first meeting of the Health and Wellbeing Board.

As of this month, Barking and Dagenham council is in charge of public health, namely the budget, having taken over from the abolished NHS Primary Care Trust.

At the meeting on April 23, the board’s top priority was a proposed review of services for domestic violence, which was cited as the biggest violent crime in the borough.

In 2011/12 there were 1,718 domestic violence crimes reported to police which, despite a 2.9 per cent reduction on the previous year, was still the highest rate across London.

London-wide domestic abuse equates to around 18 per cent of violent crime, but here it is closer to 35 per cent.

The current funding for domestic violence projects is £803,500 over the next two years - £644.5mn of which is from the local authority budget - to support numerous services in the community.

The board agreed to review the current services and in July will chose which ones to commission and how they shall be funded.

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Board members also discussed a hate crime strategy that intends to prevent hate crimes and increase reporting of them.

Cllr Maureen Worby, cabinet member for health who heads the board, said hate crime was not always considered as criminal by many people.

Meanwhile Marie Kearns, who is leading Healthwatch (a consumer group representing local residents’ views) suggested more outreach work to encourage victims to report incidents.

Funding for the hate crime strategy is £463,800 for 2013/14, of which £14,800 comes from the local authority budget.

Social care funding was also on the agenda; the number of people receiving care and support in the home has risen from 1,206 to 1,348 in the past year.