London

Councils first in London to apply new domestic violence strategy

Arguing couple Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police in London receive about 8,000 reports of domestic abuse every month

Two councils have become the first in London to adopt a new domestic violence strategy which aims to better protect children by keeping families together.

The "Safe and Together" model focuses on improving support for a parent who has been abused by their partner.

Campaigners have argued the current system can mean abuse is not reported as parents fear losing their children.

Waltham Forest and Hackney councils have adopted the approach and say they hope others will follow their lead.

They are initially paying a combined total of £80,000 on training and resources to bring in the scheme.

The model was created in the US and has since been introduced in places like Edinburgh.

David Mandel, of the Safe and Together Institute which helped to develop it, said abused parents often get blamed by social services for failing to protect their children if they are in a violent household, so they may not report the abuse.

"When social workers apply the Safe and Together model they are going to look at their strengths and approach them as a partner, keeping the kids safe," he said.

Image caption Claire and Charlotte Hart were both shot dead by Lance Hart in July 2016

Luke Hart, whose mother and sister were killed by his violent father, has called the initiative "really important" as it "helps people focus on who we are trying to protect" which will help both children and those being abused.

"What happens often in cases of abuse is women are held to much higher expectations for parenting... which means that women can be manipulated and the man can create really difficult environments to parent in," he said.

The leader of Waltham Forest Council, Clare Coghill, said the scheme is intended to help reduce further violence in society.

"Young people are infinitely more likely to be involved in violent activity as they grow up... if they've seen violence around them as they've been growing up."

She said authorities were "storing up problems for the future if we don't tackle these problems when children are small".

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