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Focusing on those at risk

Domestic abuse happens in all communities and to people from all backgrounds. Many incidents of domestic abuse continue to go unreported, with national survey data suggesting that only 21 per cent of incidents are reported to the Police, indicating that the true scale of the issue is much higher. National estimates also suggest that one in five children have been exposed to some kind of domestic violence before they reach the age of 18, equating to 60,000 children in Essex.

In 2016-17, Essex Partners estimated that the socio-economic cost of domestic violence to the county was £401.6 million; £80.3 million of those costs were due to repeat victimisation. Essex County Council and Essex Police have a long-standing partnership tackling domestic abuse across the county, and wanted to further understand the issue of escalating domestic abuse. By understanding how domestic abuse escalates; how it develops, we can begin to understand more about who might be at risk; predicting and preventing incidents of domestic abuse before they even happen. By focusing on those at risk of escalation we are able to identify the most vulnerable communities in Essex and intervene earlier.

In 2017 Essex County Council and Essex Police began using the Essex Data programme to combine insight and data from Adult Social Care, Children’s Social Care, Drug and Alcohol service and Essex Police, together with market research data from Experian, to help us get a more detailed picture of our communities; the types of properties available, employment status, health and social patterns.

All personally identifiable information was removed from the data and combined using the safe and secure Essex Data platform to build a model that predicted those communities most at risk of being vulnerable to escalating domestic abuse.

This work identified a number of new communities in Essex that are vulnerable to domestic abuse, areas that we were not previously aware of. By working together with a wider number of partner agencies we were able to identify earlier opportunities to reach people within these communities and we have now developed a tool that can give us up to date insight so we have a better understanding of domestic abuse as it changes so that our decisions are based on evidence that remains current.

Currently we are sharing our initial insights with partners and refining the work we have done to inform our work for the future. The insight has potential to be used for a number of things; as a commissioning tool to enable early identification of domestic abuse through a multi-agency understanding of risk factor, before risk escalates; It can be used to allocate resources more efficiently to communities that need them most; and to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions put in place to support domestic abuse victims and perpetrators.

We are continuing to work closely with Essex communities to gain more insight into domestic abuse and are working with other partners in the voluntary and community sector, and in health, to expand and enrich our knowledge of the issue and to further drive our ambition to identify early escalating domestic abuse.