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A new policy to help protect Wealden District Council residents from domestic abuse has been approved by the Council.

“It is important we take domestic abuse seriously – both in our own housing and in all homes across the District,” said Councillor Philip Lunn, Cabinet Member for Community and Public Health at Wealden District Council. “We cannot be complacent. Over the past two years, there has been a 26% increase in reported crimes of domestic abuse in Wealden. There has been 995 domestic abuse crimes reported between November 2018 and October 2019.

“Office for National Statistics research says one woman in four and one man in six will be affected by domestic abuse during their lifetime. It can take place whatever someone age. It is important that we have a system in place to support victims and take appropriate action against abusers”

The policy commits the Council to ensuring all staff on visits will be trained to identify the signs of domestic abuse and, with the permission of the victim, make referrals to the relevant agencies.

The Council’s updated policy on domestic abuse applies to also council tenants. Tenants are able to report domestic abuse to Housing Officers directly or by a third party and the Council will ensure total confidentiality. This ensures that a Housing Officer will contact the tenant within 24 hours of any initial report. This meeting will discuss immediate housing options, contacts with the police and medical services and agree an action plan.

As well as the support of a refuge, the Council can offer a sanctuary scheme. This can enable the person to stay in their own accommodation after a risk assessment. This may involve the installation of a range of security devices, including CCTV, to ensure person is in a safe and secure environment.

Anyone in Wealden who is concerned about domestic or sexual violence can contact The Portal. This provides advice and support to people in East Sussex and Brighton. It can be contacted on freephone 0300 323 9985, or email info@theportal.org.uk. In an emergency, you should call 999.

Monday, 25 November was White Ribbon Day. Every male over the age of 14 is asked to promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women. Wealden District Council was awarded White Ribbon status in 2016.

Domestic abuse is not just violence. It can involve many kinds of controlling behaviour including physical and sexual intimidation, as well as economic and emotional abuse. Among the tell-tale signs within relationships are destructive, verbal criticism, removing individual choice, threatening to withhold money, taking away mobile phones, harassment and isolation

In many cases people are unaware they are the abuser. Self-awareness is so important. Through the White Ribbon campaign more people have become willing to talk about these issues. Further information about the White Ribbon Campaign can be found here: https://www.whiteribbon.org.uk/promise