The NSPCC Helpline has seen a rise in the number of referrals made to police and children’s services across the south east as a result of people calling to report concerns of children affected by domestic abuse.
In 2016/17 the free and confidential Helpline made 504 referrals to local agencies, compared with 424 in 2015/16 – an increase of 19% over the last two years.
In Kent the NSPCC’s Gillingham1 service centre runs the Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together (DART) service which works with survivors across the county to help get their lives back on track.
Between July 2014 and March 2017, the centre directly helped 73 mums and children to overcome their experiences of domestic violence.
Callers were seeking guidance from the NSPCC’s trained advisers after witnessing distressing things such as visible bruises, parents being hospitalised, children being exposed to rage and rough handling, and aggressive behaviour towards parents of young babies.
Last year, nationally the charity received its highest ever number of contacts from adults concerned about violent and abusive behaviour around children, reaching 4,749 – up more than three quarters from 2012/13. Some 85% of the contacts were so serious that they were referred to other agencies such as the police or social services.
The figures come after Ofsted revealed this week that it is calling for a greater emphasis on prevention of domestic abuse and on repairing long-term damage to child victims.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “Domestic abuse can have a huge impact on a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing, and this sharp increase in reports shows that more people are speaking up on behalf of frightened children living in violent homes.
“We all have a part to play in tackling domestic abuse, and it’s important to pick up the phone if you’re concerned so that our trained advisers can offer non-judgemental advice, discuss possibilities and take action where necessary.
“Stepping in early and putting the child at the heart of all decisions in domestic abuse cases is vital in keeping children safe.
“It is vital that young people affected by domestic abuse have access to the right kind of support.”
NSPCC research shows that one in five children have been exposed to domestic violence, with a third of those also experiencing another form of abuse, and it is a factor in over half of serious case reviews.
The NSPCC’s Helpline takes calls from adults who have concerns about a child, and last year 7% of all contacts from across the country were to do with domestic abuse. The Helpline is free and available 24 hours a day. To seek guidance or report a concern, call 0808 800 5000.
Children and young people who are worried about domestic abuse can call Childline on 0800 11 11.
For local independent domestic abuse advice in Thanet and Dover call the RAISE taem on 07718657160
open Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm, there is an answerphone outside these hours.
Kent Police statistics
From July 1 to December 31, 2016, Kent Police received 10,332 domestic abuse complaints.
Of those 1,629 people were charged with an offence.
488 adults received a caution
3012 cases hit evidential problems despite support from the victim for a prosecution
4637 cases hit evidence problems and the victim did not support prosecution
7 domestic murders were recorded by Kent Police between April 2012 and March 2015. 5 victims were female and 2 male
According to data from the Kent and Medway Domestic Abuse Strategy Group between April 2015 and March 2016 almost 2,000 domestic abuse reports were in Thanet.
Between July 2015 and June 2016, 296 were referred as high-risk cases in Thanet and these affected 389 children