New project to support victims of sexual and domestic abuse in Wiltshire

New project to support victims of sexual and domestic abuse in Wiltshire

A new project has launched which will provide a range of valuable support to male and female victims of domestic and sexual abuse in the county.

The Phoenix Project has been commissioned by Conservative-led Wiltshire Council and the Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and will be provided by Splitz Support Service.

The project provides support to male and female victims of domestic abuse and people who want to change their harmful behaviour in Wiltshire and victims of sexual violence in Wiltshire and Swindon. Phoenix can support adults, children and families in the community or through the provision of safe accommodation.

The launch took place yesterday (13 June) at Market Lavington Community Hall. Laura Mayes, Wiltshire Council Conservative cabinet member for children's services, and Angus Macpherson, MBE, Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner launched the service and the event also showcased survivors' stories.

Protecting victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence remains a key priority for Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire and Swindon's PCC. In Wiltshire, and Swindon, partners from a wide range of agencies are working together to tackle and reduce the impacts on individuals, families and local communities.

Fran Lewis, MBE, Executive Director of Splitz Support Service, said: "We consider it a privilege to be part of the response to domestic abuse in Wiltshire and we will be complementing and building on existing work to continue to respond to the needs of individuals. We will continue to work with others in our communities who are so passionate about helping people to make changes in their lives. No single organisation can deal with this huge problem alone and our intention is very much to work in partnership with other providers to achieve the safest possible outcome for everyone with these experiences"

Angus Macpherson, MBE, Wiltshire and Swindon's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), committed to put the victim at the heart of Wiltshire Police's work a key priority in his Police and Crime Plan. As part of this, Mr Macpherson provided £220k for the project, around a third of the overall cost, from the Ministry of Justice's victim commissioning fund. He said:

Domestic violence and abuse can have a devastating impact on the victims - damaging their lives, and that of their families, irrevocably. I am delighted this service, provided by Splitz, will ensure the victim is not forgotten while in the criminal justice system and will also provide vital preventative engagement work with vulnerable people before situations spiral dangerously out of control
Working together is key to providing streamlined, effective, support services and solutions at the heart of our county's communities. By bringing police, local authorities, health professionals and domestic abuse support services together to share information, identify risks and co-ordinate responses, I hope many more victims will be empowered to get the help they need.

Laura Mayes, Wiltshire Council Conservative cabinet member for children's services, said:

We are delighted to continue our working relationship with Splitz Support Service as they provide first class innovative and sensitive support right in the heart of our communities helping very vulnerable people.
We hope this collaborative project helps give victims a voice and the courage to get the support many desperately need. We also want to have a big focus on prevention and be able to identify potential worrying issues quickly before they escalate. Many families never recover when they have been affected directly or indirectly from domestic and sexual abuse, but our aim is that this project will give them the very best chance to have a brighter future.

Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) has far reaching consequences in our populations;

  • DVA has one of the highest repeat victimisation rates of any other crime type
  • It is estimated that only 20 per cent of DVA incidents are reported to the police (Home Office 2004)
  • One in four women and one in six men will experience DVA at some point in their lives.
  • In the UK, one woman is murdered every three days by a current or former partner.
  • There is a 30 per cent increase in likelihood of domestic violence when a woman is pregnant.
  • A woman will experience 35 assaults before she tells anyone about the abuse.
  • One in five women aged 16 - 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence
  • Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police
  • Based on national research[1] domestic violence and abuse costs Wiltshire approximately £18.5m per year. This includes health, police, local authorities and criminal justice agencies.

[1] Walby, S (2004) The cost of domestic violence Women & Equality Unit: London

by Hollis Butler,