Councillor Jeanie Bell
Councillor Jeanie Bell

Labour Councillor Jeanie Bell, St Helens Council Cabinet Member for Community Safety, is leading calls for urgent action on domestic violence in St Helens.

At Wednesday’s full council meeting Councillor Bell revealed the scale of the problem in the borough and brought a motion calling for support for victims, additional government funding to support essential housing provision for victims, and the development of a whole Council approach to tackling the issue. You can watch a video of her speech below.

Councillor Jeanie Bell says: “There’s been an increase in domestic abuse homicides in St Helens. The latest figures show that there were 2,921 domestic abuse crimes reported in St Helens in 2018-19, but the actual number of crimes could be much higher. We just don’t know how much is being kept within four walls and within our communities.

It’s widely understood that official crime statistics show reported crime, but they do not show the crime which is not reported. Domestic abuse is one of the main culprits of that because people are frightened of coming forward.

If we’re going to tackle what I think is a social and cultural problem of domestic abuse in St Helens then we need to be open and start talking about it very loudly.”

Councillor Michelle Sweeney, Labour Spokesperson for Women and Equalities, says: “I would like all of those who are victims of violence within our communities and within their homes to know they are not alone, and we as a body believe that with appropriate support and intervention they can and will become survivors and inspirers. There is #NothingDomesticAboutViolence.”

The full motion, which was supported unanimously by Councillors, states:

Domestic abuse occurs throughout the UK and can affect anyone at any life stage. It does not discriminate and whilst it affects mainly women, children and men of all backgrounds, age, race, gender, sexuality or socio-economic status can be affected. National statistics for levels of domestic abuse have not changed for decades.

As an authority, the Council recognises the importance of people coming forward to report domestic abuse and wants to provide a safe environment in which victims and survivors can come forward to receive the help they need in a non-judgemental and supportive way.

The Council also notes the importance of providing emergency accommodation for those in need who are fleeing abusing relationships.

This Council resolves to make a stand against domestic abuse and agrees to –

• Write to the Home Secretary to demand additional funding for Local Authorities to support essential housing provision for victims of Domestic Abuse;
• Work to deliver a comprehensive, whole Council approach to Domestic Abuse;
• Work with all communities to make clear that domestic abuse in all its forms is not acceptable and to do all we can to encourage people to report domestic abuse;
• Treat victims of domestic abuse with dignity and provide a safe environment in which to report domestic abuse of all types.

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