Nicola was invited by the Home Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, to participate in a roundtable discussion on domestic abuse. Nicola has long championed the need for a joined up approach to tackling domestic violence in Parliament, having been trained as a Domestic Violence Champion and working with Reducing the Risk in Oxfordshire.
The Home Secretary Chaired the discussion, which covered a range of issues including teaching on sexual relationships in schools, early intervention and training, older victims and variations across different community groups. Nicola raised the importance of frontline services picking up on early warning signs, particularly in younger victims, and the Oxford model brought forward by Reducing the Risk Oxfordshire. This multi-agency strategy supports networks of Domestic Abuse Champions who act as a source of expertise for the front line staff they work with and a conduit to the services in the network. Good practice is shared through training, a data base, network meetings, e-bulletings and online discussion forums.
The charity draws on expertise gained through the development of local coordinated practice to provide consultancy and training in multi-agency approaches to tackle abuse. The charity has to date worked with eight other areas in the UK. It intends to sustain this model: remaining a local service provider while contributing to national development and roll-out of good practice.
The Home Secretary spoke about the Home Office’s ongoing work in this area including better joined-up working within the Police to work with victims and encourage victims to report the crime. She also said she would examine the Reducing the Risk model, as well as looking at media campaigns and broader training in schools to ensure young victims speak out.
Nicola says: Domestic Violence support has improved in the Thames Valley area over recent years, and Reducing the Risk does exceptional work with victims and service providers to ensure there is adequate support at every possible area in which an individual might disclose abuse.We must build on this model to ensure people do not find themselves passed from service to service and to those who do not know how to respond. This way we can work to increase reporting and get professional help more quickly to those who urgently need it.