Call to end 'grassing culture' notion which puts off domestic violence reports
County chiefs have called for an end to the ‘grassing culture’ that discourages the public reporting possible domestic abuse.
Identifying more ‘invisible victims’ has been highlighted as a key priority in the fight against the problem in County Durham.
But members of Durham County Council have raised concerns recent media coverage may make neighbours more reluctant to contact police and other services if they suspect families nearby are suffering violence.
“In the media there’s things at the moment about what we hear from the next door neighbour,” Coun Heather Liddle, vice chairwoman of the county council’s Safer and Stronger Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee said.
“There’s a culture of ‘what goes on behind closed doors stays behind closed doors’ – it’s a ‘grassing culture’ and we’re trying to break down the barrier.”
This weekend, the race to become leader of the Conservative Party and the country’s next Prime Minister was rocked by allegations of police being called to the home of MP Boris Johnson.
A neighbour’s recording of the ‘loud row’ which prompted the report was later shared with national media – which led questions over the motives of the people who made and distributed the recording form some quarters and whether it was right to do so.
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Coun Rob Crute added: “There are worrying sections of the media questioning the thought of residents reporting potential abuse and I’m really concerned about that.”
County performance figures also shared during the meeting showed that during 2018/19, there were 15,064 reported incidents of ‘domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation and radicalisation’.
The report added the Safe Durham Partnership was working on plans to bring domestic abuse cases to court faster.
And Jeanette Trotted, chairwoman of the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Executive Group (DASVEG), said campaigns such as No Less of a Man, which highlighted the impact of domestic abuse against men, showed publicity initiatives could have a positive impact.
She added: “No Less of a Man was a big campaign and there’s always campaigns with the public we have about how to raise awareness.
“Information about alerting [the authorities to suspected domestic abuse] is in chemists and GP surgeries and hospitals to make sure that information is in the public eye.”