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Reducing the risk

Survivors of domestic violence in West Oxfordshire will have access to a new ‘sanctuary scheme’ as part of the Outreach Service funded by the Safer Communities Partnership and West Oxfordshire District Council.

The ‘sanctuary scheme’ involves carrying out safety improvements to the home making it possible for survivors of domestic violence to remain in their property rather than being forced to move which disrupts education, employment and family networks.

The ‘sanctuary scheme’ can range from installing window locks and security alarms to fitting toughened doors or even creating a ‘sanctuary room’ within the house. The scheme is open to private and housing association tenants as well as private homeowners. The local crime reduction adviser, who works for the Safer Communities Partnership, will carry out the security survey to assess what improvements need making.

Jill Dunsmore, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Communities at West Oxfordshire District Council said: “This extra £5,000 funding will provide domestic violence survivors with the option of staying in their own home which can be a great support in terms of minimising the disruption to them and their children.
The fundamental basis of the scheme is that it is a voluntary option and the wish of the victim to remain in their home is paramount. The existing Outreach Service Worker that we fund provides an excellent support to people living in our district.”

DS Lis Knight at the Domestic Violence Unit, said: “Over the past few years we have seen an increase in West Oxfordshire with reported incidents rising from 296 in 2004/5 to 453 in 2007/8. I think this is because people are now more likely to realise that they should not have to put up with such treatment.
There is a lot of work being undertaken by different agencies to increase the understanding and raise awareness of this type of crime.”

If survivors want more information about the scheme they can contact the District Council’s Housing Department or the Thames Valley Police Domestic Violence Unit at Banbury. Other referrals can come from the West Oxfordshire Domestic Violence Outreach Worker.

Since April 2004, the Partnership has part-funded the costs of a domestic violence service that works with survivors living in the district. The District Council funds the Witney-based Outreach Service Worker to work 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 survivors.

Posted : 29/07/2008 22:17:26

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