Young people acknowledged as domestic abuse victims

Young victims of domestic abuse are being urged to seek help ahead of a national change in the definition of domestic violence.

From Sunday (March 31) the definition of domestic violence will include 16 and 17 year old victims.

The change has been introduced to raise awareness that young people do experience domestic violence and abuse.

Det Insp Alan Page said: “We have already seen an increase in the reporting of domestic abuse by young people and the change in definition means they are now nationally acknowledged as victims.

“We have support mechanisms in place to ensure these victims can get the help and advice they need.

“I would urge anyone who is a victim of abuse to contact police or one of the many support services available.”

The latest crime survey for England and Wales shows that 31 per cent of women and 18 per cent of men have experienced some form of domestic abuse since the age of 16.

Almost a year ago the force launched the DAISU (Domestic abuse investigation and safeguarding unit), to investigate all domestic abuse crimes, as well as introducing a domestic violence desk run with Cambridgeshire County Council Independent Domestic Violence Advisory Service (IDVAS).

The IDVAS team support high risk victims of domestic violence in crisis, providing support and guidance regarding their immediate safety and the safety of the children in their care. This includes: safety planning, assistance with safe accommodation, security within the home, finances, benefits, and support through criminal and civil court proceedings

The team has recruited the county’s first Young Persons IDVAS who provides support to young people aged between 13 and 19 years old, who are or have been in abusive intimate relationships.

Deirdre Reed, Domestic Abuse MARU manager, said: “It’s important that we respond to young victims, ideally at the early stages of an abusive relationship, by providing appropriate dedicated resources to support and protect them. This should be done in a joined up and co-ordinated approach with relevant services. We need to remind ourselves that young victims of DA under the age of 18 are still children as defined by The Children Act, we have a duty of care to protect them.

“We are supporting an increasing number of female victims of a young age, who also may have young children themselves. Those very young children are equally vulnerable and also at risk of harm from the same identified perpetrator. We work closely together with our colleagues and partner agencies in the field of child protection to ensure everyone affected by the abuse receives the right level of protection.”