The Domestic Abuse Act 2021
The 2021 Domestic Abuse Act recognises both adults and children as victims and survivors of domestic abuse and defines abusive behaviour as happening between adults over 16 and including any of the following tactics:
- physical or sexual abuse
- violent or threatening behavior
- controlling or coercive behavior
- economic abuse
- psychological, emotional, or other abuse
Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
Domestic abuse includes 'honour’ based violence, violence from family members forced marriage and female genital mutilation. It can affect anyone.
The Domestic Abuse Act defines domestic abuse happening between people who are ‘personally connected’ which is defined as people who:
- are married or civil partners have agreed to marry or enter a civil partnership
- are or have been in an intimate personal relationship with each other
- have, or have had, a parental relationship in relation to the same child
- are family members or relatives
Domestic abuse and witnessing domestic abuse can seriously harm children, young people and adults alike. It is important to remember domestic abuse:
- can happen inside and outside of the home
- can be over the phone, on the internet or social networking sites
- can happen in any relationship and can continue even after the relationship has ended
- both men and women can be abused or abusers.
Types of Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse can be emotional, physical, sexual, financial or psychological, such as:
- kicking, hitting, punching or cutting
- rape (including in a relationship)
- controlling someone's finances by withholding money or stopping someone earning
- controlling behaviour e.g. telling someone where they can go and what they can wear
- not letting someone leave the house
- reading emails, text messages or letters
- threatening to kill someone or harm them
- threatening to harm another family member or pet.
Kent and Medway Domestic Abuse Strategy 2020-2023
The multi-agency Domestic Abuse Strategy was launched in March 2020.
The strategy brings together a range of statutory agencies including Kent County Council (KCC), Medway Council, Kent Police, Police and Crime Commissioner Office, NHS, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, National Probation Service, Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company, and Kent's district / borough councils.
The strategy sets out Kent and Medway’s' joint vision, priorities, and commitments to reduce the levels of domestic abuse, and ensure that where domestic abuse does take place, all those affected receive the right support, quickly. It will support agencies and partnerships to design and deliver the most appropriate responses to anyone affected by domestic abuse in Kent and Medway and will focus on preventing and responding through five key priorities. These priorities are:
- driving change together
- prevention and early intervention
- provision of services
- minimising harm
- justice, recovery, and ongoing protection
Kent Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (KIDAS)
Kent County Council (KCC) worked with partners, to pool budgets and collaboratively commission four, area based, holistic domestic abuse support services across Kent, known as Kent Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (KIDAS). The funding partners are KCC Adult Social Care, Public Health, Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, and 9 District / Borough Councils (Thanet, Ashford, Canterbury, Dartford, Dover, Gravesend, Maidstone, Folkestone and Hythe, and Swale).
The aim of the contract is to deliver a holistic, flexible model of support to those experiencing domestic abuse, focussing on early intervention, and maintaining independence for survivors and their families, reducing the impact of domestic abuse on families and communities, and keeping people safe. The service is open to residents of Kent aged 16 and over, and their families, or those moving to Kent to flee violence and abuse and is free at the point of access.
The KIDAS contract includes:
- a single, county wide referral point and triage process known as the Referral, Assessment and Triage (RAT) Service delivered by Victim Support
- the core community contract which is delivered by three lead providers: Oasis in East Kent (Thanet and Dover), Clarion in South Kent (Folkestone and Hythe, Ashford and Canterbury) and North Kent (Swale, Maidstone, Dartford and Gravesham) and Lookahead in West Kent (Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Malling and Sevenoaks). Each provider delivers services and subcontracts to a Delivery Network of providers.
- a Training, Education and Awareness (TEA) Service, which is currently delivered by all three lead providers.
An initiative to inform schools and early years settings of domestic abuse incidents.
Operation Encompass is a national initiative regarding the notification and sharing of information in respect of domestic abuse incidents within families.
What is Operation Encompass?
Operation Encompass is a process by which Key Adults in schools and early years settings are informed that a child attending school in that area may be affected by domestic abuse. This will usually mean that a child has been in the household where an incident of domestic abuse has taken place or has been exposed to domestic abuse. The initiative was be trialled in the South Kent area and following this was rolled out across the county.
- When a police officer attends a domestic abuse incident where a child or young person has been in the house or exposed to the abuse, the officer will obtain details of the incident. This will include, if the child or young person is of school age, information relating to the schools or early years setting they attend.
- All domestic abuse records will be fully reviewed to ascertain if a child or young person was present during the incident. If so, the police will share information, in confidence, at the earliest opportunity with a Designated Safeguarding Lead in the school in which the child attends.
- The Designated Safeguarding Lead, who will have been provided with Operation Encompass training by the police and Education Safeguarding Team, will record and retain the information they receive in a secure location as per schools/settings safeguarding protocols.
- The sharing of information between the police and schools will allow early intervention and/or support by a key adult. This support, which may be overt or silent, will assist the child to remain in school to continue learning in a safe and secure environment.
One phone call will share important information which could be vital to improve the child or young person’s life chances allowing professionals to appropriately respond to some of the warning signs that a child has been affected by a domestic abuse incident.