MORE work could be undertaken with the perpetrators of domestic abuse in Swansea as part of efforts to prevent the crime.
The council plans to spend an additional £250,000 of Welsh Government funding in 2021-22 on a new role working with perpetrators and also increasing the number of high-risk victim support workers.
Two new posts are also proposed to help male victims, older victims and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims.
The council is looking at prevention work being carried in Cardiff by Welsh Women’s Aid, which includes helping people if they are concerned about someone’s behaviour or even their own.
Megan Stevens, who leads Swansea Council’s violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence team, said: “There are individuals who can recognise that they may have unhealthy responses in relationships themselves, and want to approach that.”
Ms Stevens said Swansea would be following Cardiff’s lead.
She and fellow council officers gave a council scrutiny committee a wider overview of the work going on in this area and how the coronavirus pandemic had impacted domestic abuse statistics.
The number of domestic abuse reports and referrals to specialists services in Swansea in the early part of last year’s lockdown did not reflect higher rates elsewhere.
There was concern that this might be because victims were worried that the “stay at home” message would prevent them from leaving.
In response, the council arranged for posters to be put up in supermarkets and worked with Microsoft to develop an online chatbot that points victims to support services.
Before long there was a need for additional refuge accommodation, which Swansea University arranged in empty student accommodation.
A report before the committee said there was a surge in referrals in the summer to a project which helps high-risk victims of domestic abuse.
Meanwhile, South Wales Police shared details of domestic abuse incidents with the council so that schools were better aware of issues at home for certain pupils. The council’s domestic abuse hub received 4,376 such notifications, just over of which already had an allocated lead worker or social worker.
Cllr Mike Day asked about the education element of domestic abuse and was keen to learn more about prevention work.
Ms Stevens said domestic abuse and violence against women were included in the new relationships and sexuality education section of the national curriculum, which comes into force in schools in 2022.
Cllr Des Thomas – a former magistrate – said it wasn’t uncommon for men to be victims of domestic abuse and wanted to know if they were offered equal support opportunities.
Ms Stevens said a rise in male victims had been noticed during the pandemic and that access to support was offered, but she also pointed out that women represented 95% of victims.
Cllr Paxton Hood-Williams said the whole subject was “a great matter of concern” to the committee.
He added that he was surprised about the large number of domestic abuse notifications shared by police with the council.
“I had not realised it was as widespread as that,” he said.
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