An estimated 30% of women and 16% of men have experienced domestic abuse in their adult lifetime according to the findings of the 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). Using data from the 2015/16 Crime Survey and applying overall rates to the population of Somerset would suggest that around 57,000 residents (aged 16-59) have ever been a victim of domestic abuse, and around 17,300 were a victim of domestic abuse in the year from July 2015-June 2016.
Local prevalence estimates suggest that around 8,000 women (aged 16+) in Somerset are at risk of domestic abuse, with around 2,000 estimated to be in high to medium risk. There are estimated to be between 6,000 to 6,500 children living in households with a risk of domestic abuse. The long-standing negative effects for children who are living in abusive households is becoming more clear.
The police in Somerset recorded 7,290 incidents of domestic abuse during 2014/15, up from 6,110 incidents during 2013/14. The rate of domestic abuse incidents recorded by the police for people aged 16 and over in the Avon & Somerset Constabulary Police Force Area was 17.3 per 1,000 during 2014/15. This was significantly lower than the England average. The force area includes Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucester and Somerset. Therefore in reality the true picture would likely show a certain amount of variation in the rates between the different upper tier local authority areas. It is widely accepted that incidents of domestic abuse and sexual violence continue to be under-reported.
An estimated 32,700 adults (aged 16-59) in Somerset have experienced sexual violence in their adult lifetime, based on national prevalence estimates of 20% of women and 3% of men being victims. Annually, there are estimated to be 4,250 sexual offences occurring in Somerset. By comparison, the total number of reported offences in the year 2012/13 was 399, which would represent only around 1 in 10 of all estimated offences.
The estimated total number of rape offences (including attempts) of females annually in Somerset is 460. In 2012/13 a total of 125 rape offences were reported, equating to around a third of the total number of estimated offences.
In 2012/13, the cost of domestic abuse and sexual violence to services in Somerset was an estimated £30.9 million. This excludes costs of child protection, and the human and emotional costs to the victims.
Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC)
In 2015 a total of 643 cases were discussed by Somerset’s MARACs (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences), due to being identified as at high risk of domestic abuse. The number of referrals is consistently high, although it is acknowledged that the actual prevalence and need for specialist services is in fact a lot higher than is currently being experienced.
Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) service
During 2015/16, a total of 1028 referrals were received by the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) service, an increase of 236 referrals on the 2014/15 figure. The IDVA service works with the most high risk victims of domestic abuse. Around 95% of referrals during 2015/16 related to female victims. Recorded perpetrators of domestic abuse were most commonly ‘ex-intimate partners’ (49%) or ‘intimate partners’ (31%).
Somerset Domestic Abuse Outreach (non-IDVA) Service
People identified as being at medium risk of domestic violence are supported through the Domestic Abuse Outreach service. During 2015/16 there were 782 referrals to the Domestic Abuse Outreach service, an approximate 57% increase on 2014/15 numbers.
Specialist Domestic Abuse Refuge/Safehouse Services
During 2015/16 there was an approximate 60% reduction in the number of referrals received for Refuge/Safehouse services, (circa 100 in 2015/16 compared to 266 referrals during 2014/15). Around three quarters of victims originated from within the South West. Data is not readily available to determine the number of Somerset victims fleeing to other parts of the country.
Somerset's Strategic Action Plan
Somerset’s Domestic Abuse Prevention Strategy 2017-20 identifies three main priority areas:
- Effective and resilient system for supporting victims of domestic abuse
- Breaking the cycle of victimisation by working with offenders and increasing prevention activity
- Working in partnership for best results.
The full Somerset Domestic Abuse Strategy, which includes the Action Plan and full definition of domestic abuse, can be downloaded below.
Somerset Domestic Abuse Needs Assessment, Strategy and Appendices:
Information and advice for anyone affected by domestic abuse or sexual violence is available through the Somerset Domestic Abuse Support (DAFFS) line on 0800 69 49 999 *calls may be chargeable from mobile phones, or through the Somerset Survivors website.