What is being done to tackle soaring domestic abuse reports?

Lorraine Curston, founder of Dawn's New Horizon outside the charity shop in Sprowston's Cannerby Lan

Lorraine Curston, founder of Dawn's New Horizon outside the charity shop in Sprowston's Cannerby Lane - Credit: Steve Adams

The net is closing in on domestic abusers attempting to escape their crimes following a promised crackdown from police, as well as victims being offered new forms of security.  

Norfolk Police has revealed domestic abuse makes up almost a quarter of all incidents reported to officers in Norfolk and in 2021 they responded to 24,000 incidents. 

But refusing to live their lives in fear, former abuse victims are doing what they can to protect other people from ongoing harassment.  

A contractor fitting a security device for Clarion Housing Group accommodation 

A contractor fitting a security device for Clarion Housing Group accommodation - Credit: Clarion Housing Group

Sprowston-based Dawn’s New Horizon has handed out 55 CCTV cameras since March 2020 – more than half of which have resulted in prosecutions for harassment and stalking, its founder said.  

Charity boss, Lorraine Curston, 56, said the fear of ex-partners visiting was "soul-destroying". 

Ms Curston, who was previously in an abusive relationship herself, added: "We know security cameras are needed but they should not be. People who have fled abusive relationships need to feel safe. It has hard to recover.  

“Perpetrators still want to control and have power over you. It is horrific." 

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This idea was picked up by social entrepreneur Stacy Bradley, 36, from Thorpe Marriott, who is now handing out free CCTV cameras and lighting equipment to as many victims as she can.  

Stacy Bradley, who is behind a pilot to make survivors of domestic abuse feel safer with CCTV and security lighting

Stacy Bradley, who is behind a pilot to make survivors of domestic abuse feel safer with CCTV and security lighting - Credit: Stacy Bradley

Also a former victim of abuse herself, the founder’s Safe At Home pilot has now been taken on by the Clarion Housing association.  

She said: "If someone knocks on my door when I am not expecting it, I get worried.” 

She installed a CCTV camera in 2021.  

“I feel safer having cameras. I hope the pilot acts as a deterrent and stops abuse. I hope it increases the reports of abuse. 

Community leader Stacy Bradley organises the litter pick group, and is behind the funding of the sel

Stacy Bradley, who is behind a pilot to make survivors of domestic abuse feel safer with CCTV and security lighting - Credit: Wayne Baker

"To secure more convictions means justice for victims and we really need that. If more people are going to the police with reports there will be more convictions," Miss Bradley added. 

Clarion, which has 132,796 homes in England - including 266 in Norwich – along with Miss Bradley, hope the pilot will be picked up by other housing associations. 

Matt Parsonage, head of communities at Clarion Housing Group’s charitable foundation, said: "Safe At Home provides peace of mind. We are committed to taking any action possible to tackle domestic violence.

"We are proud to partner EQUANS and others on the Safe At Home scheme. Our collective rehousing and social value teams already do an incredible job of supporting tenants wishing to move away from their abuser."

But both Miss Bradley and Ms Curston urged the police to keep focus on the crime, amid increased reports during lockdown.  

Norfolk chief constable Paul Sanford

Norfolk chief constable Paul Sanford - Credit: Denise Bradley

Paul Sanford, Norfolk Police chief constable, said: "Domestic abuse incidents are increasing and it is something we take seriously. No other matter receives more policing attention than domestic abuse. 

“The increase is down to factors including greater awareness and confidence in people reporting domestic abuse, which is something we welcome. 

“This is a priority for us and we’re committed to supporting victims and dealing with offenders and have a range of measures in place to help victims and deal with those perpetrators who pose the greatest risk. 

“Policing has a role to investigate and prosecute and we will deal robustly with offenders and seek justice for victims.  

“There is a wider societal response to this issue that’s needed to make domestic abuse completely unacceptable. I believe education has a key role to play showing young people what a healthy relationship looks like. 

“We would urge anyone who believes they may be a victim to come forward at the earliest opportunity and report their concerns to police or other agencies so we can protect them.” 

A Norfolk Police spokeswoman said: “Our officers deal with challenging incidents finding themselves in the middle of complex disputes. It is possible one party in the dispute might not be happy with the outcome but we have every confidence that our officers are doing their very best at these difficult incidents. 

“Support groups play an important role in helping victims and we’d urge them to work with the constabulary.”

To get help from the scheme call Julian Sanz on 07795 194449 and email julian.sanz@equans.com

‘Stalking is not something you move on from’ 

A former victim of domestic abuse, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It seems like people think you’re a victim of domestic abuse and then time passes and suddenly you’re not.  

“It doesn’t work like that – you don’t move on from it.  

“No matter how far you go or where you are, if you have experienced this sort of thing your guard is always somewhat up. 

“You can’t go into a public place without looking over your shoulder or take a call from an unknown number.  

“It’s also important to point out that abuse can take many forms. 

“It’s disgraceful that in this day and age people need CCTV to feel safe but that’s the reality. 

“Anything which can be done to help victims is welcome and it’s reassuring to see the police putting such a focus on this crime.”