Increased funding for Domestic Violence Service
Victims of domestic violence in West Oxfordshire will have greater access to an Outreach Service following increased funding from the district's Community Safety Partnership and West Oxfordshire District Council.
Since April 2004, the Partnership has funded 100% of the costs of a domestic violence service that works with victims living in the district. In addition, from the beginning of May the Council will fund £14,000 to enable the Witney-based Support Service Worker to increase her hours to four days a week. Managed by Cherwell Housing Trust (part of the Dominion Housing Group), the Outreach Worker offers a non-judgemental, person-centred service; gives advice on seeking legal support, housing, childcare and counselling; and liaises with other agencies on behalf of victims.
The number of reported domestic violence offences in West Oxfordshire has increased significantly. Between 1st April 2005 and 31st January 2006 there were 252 reported assaults but over the same period last year to January 2007, it increased to 378. It is estimated that this figure will rise further during the year as more victims come forward. Domestic violence crime includes all levels of assault, harassment cases, threats to kill, theft and criminal damage related to domestic abuse.
Cllr Hilary Biles, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing at West Oxfordshire District Council said: "Sadly statistics are showing a sharp increase in domestic violence cases. Tackling this issue is essential as tragically, domestic violence impacts on all family members. I am pleased that we are working in partnership with Thames Valley Police and other community groups to provide support and services for those affected."
"I believe that the increase in reported domestic violence crime reflects the work done by the many agencies in this field to increase the understanding and awareness of this crime which ruins so many lives," said Kath Lowe, Detective Inspector for domestic violence in Oxfordshire. "I believe people suffering this sort of abuse are now more likely to realise that they should not have to put up with such treatment and are coming forward to report the crimes committed against them and to start to get help to regain control of their lives. The increase in the outreach service is really good news as it will enable more practical help and support to be given to people in this position."
Barbara Harrington, Group Director of Supported Housing at the Dominion Housing Group, said: "We were delighted to work with West Oxfordshire District Council to establish and now to expand this much needed service. We have been able to demonstrate both the value of the support we have been able to give to victims of domestic violence and the need to increase the availability of this service to meet local need."
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