And the Island’s only refuge for abused women has also seen an increase in the number of high-risk victims – someone at risk of murder or serious harm and in need of urgent help – so far this year compared to last.
Speaking today, which marks the start of this year’s domestic abuse campaign, the head of the public protection unit at the States police said Islanders must work together to lower the number of domestic abuse cases.
In the last year the States police attended 1,000 domestic abuse cases, and between January and the start of this month the Jersey Women’s Refuge had 56 admissions. The figure is similar to last year’s, although the number of ‘high-risk’ victims is higher.
So far this year the charity has also accommodated 40 children caught up in domestic violence – compared to 35 in the whole of last year.
For every incident which the States police attend, officers carry out a risk assessment and mark each case as either high-risk, medium or standard.
Each time the States police meet a victim they will present them with a set of 24 questions, which are aimed to help officers decide on the level of risk.
High-risk factors include someone who is experiencing physical or sexual violence, stalking and harassment and a perpetrator with a previous criminal history or a history of domestic abuse.
If the case falls into the ‘high risk’ category, a number of safe-guarding measures will be put in place, including assigning an independent domestic violence adviser (IDVA).
There are two IDVAs in Jersey who work independently from the States police and help support victims. To date this year the IDVAs have had 325 referrals.
Marine Oliveira, acting manager of the Jersey Women’s Refuge, said: ‘Our team of staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly this year to respond and support all the women and children who contacted our services for support. Most of them do so without having to move in but it has been really busy for the refuge this year, as the safe house was fully occupied for long period of times.
‘Jersey has gone a long way to address domestic abuse in the Island. However, there is still a lot of work that needs doing to eradicate abuse altogether from our culture.’
Throughout this week the States police aim to highlight the prevalence of domestic abuse within the community and reach those affected across all cultural groups through the #SittingRightWithYou campaign. It is the first time the police have run this particular campaign.
Detective Inspector Craig Jackson, head of the public protection unit for the States police, said: ‘Domestic abuse is everyone’s businesses and as an Island we must work together to lower the numbers.
‘I think the eight per cent drop in cases could be linked to the fact the police now work with a number of different agencies. There are a number of agencies in Jersey who will support people if they don’t want to go down the criminal-justice route. If we can look at prevention and education rather than prosecution, then that is a good thing. If we even stop one case from happening, then that is a success for us.’
Domestic abuse accounts for 11 per cent of all States police crime figures, which is in line with the UK average.
The States police will be in Marks and Spencer in King Street all this week between 11.30 am and 2.30 pm raising awareness of the #SittingRightWithYou campaign.