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Domestic violence victims in rural areas are being let down, report says | UK News



Rural domestic violence victims are lacking support “that could mean a difference between life and death”, a report has said.

Domestic violence offences recorded per 1,000 people in rural areas are lower because victims are less likely to report the crime to police, research by the National Rural Crime Network showed.

It said victims stay an average of three years with abusive partners before seeking help compared to 2.6 years in urban areas.

Support services are less accessible in the countryside, which often has poor public transport, and abusers are drawn to rural areas so that they can keep their victim isolated.

It said rurality is a “weapon” that increases isolation, stigma and shame and can create barriers that can prevent victims accessing support.

“Victims and survivors are being let down, and are lacking support that could mean the difference between life and death,” the report said.

“There is an urgent need for change, which needs to be considered seriously by policymakers and commissioners, and by frontline agencies and services in rural communities.”

The researchers interviewed 67 victims from seven different areas of England and reviewed existing literature on domestic violence.

Following the report, the chairwoman of the National Rural Crime Network, Julia Mulligan, apologised for letting down victims of domestic abuse.

She said: “This report is clear – domestic abuse is hidden under our noses, hidden by abusers who like to keep it that way and on a scale of abuse hitherto unseen.

“All parties with a duty to help victims; the police, support services, charities, Police and Crime Commissioners, health services, and many others, need to understand that we have missed this. We have let victims and survivors down.

“We have collectively failed. We need to put that right. And for all of that, let me be the first to apologise to those we have failed.”

The report also includes 2016 crime data from 11 forces analysed by Dyfed Powys police which found that 9.23 domestic abuse officers per 1,000 people were reported in rural areas, compared to 17.92 in cities and towns.

The rates should be a similar number and the difference is due to fewer victims in rural areas contacting the police, the report authors said.

Data from the 2017 Crime Survey for England and Wales, based on victims’ experiences rather than police figures, showed that rates were similar for urban and rural areas.

The Domestic Abuse Bill will be heard by the House of Commons today.
Victims in rural areas are less likely to contact police, the report claims

A Home Office spokesman called domestic abuse a “horrendous crime” and noted that a bill aimed at tackling it was introduced in parliament on Tuesday.

The bill outlines the first legal government definition of domestic abuse, which will include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour. A domestic abuse commissioner to champion survivors has also been suggested.

The Home Office spokesman said: “Whether it takes place in our rural communities or cities, we are supporting chief constables and police and crime commissioners so they can deploy resources as they best see fit to tackle crime, including domestic abuse.

“The new domestic abuse commissioner will play an important role in monitoring the provision of services for victims of domestic abuse, including those in rural communities.”

The report will be launched at the Houses of Parliament today.

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