Worcestershire councillor fires warning over domestic abuse

Evesham Journal: County Hall, the HQ of Worcestershire County Council County Hall, the HQ of Worcestershire County Council

A LEADING Worcestershire councillor has just completed his own investigation into domestic abuse - and admits he was "shocked" at the findings.

Councillor Chris Bloore was tasked with examining hate crimes, domestic abuse and 'honour' based violence on behalf of Worcestershire County Council.

The politician heard from real victims of abuse across the county in a series of confidential sessions, and has now produced an eight-page report for the Conservative leadership on his findings.

His recommendations, which are being looked at in September, include:

- Giving bus drivers training so they are better at spotting abuse on their journeys and rooting out anti-social behaviour

- Encouraging more people to report hate crimes and domestic abuse by doing work with schools and businesses and launching a fresh marketing campaign across the county

- A firm commitment from the council on "long term" funding to help carry on funding the domestic abuse hotline and re-think any cuts

Cllr Bloore said: "I heard from people who had been abused for over 10 years and for them it had become the norm, they didn't know anything different.

"I heard about people who never left the house, many people who came to see us and were calling themselves 'survivors'.

"Many of them didn't know how to get out until they saw the helpline and rang it, for them it was their one chance to escape from that life.

"It was also heartbreaking to hear from one lady who said she did not want to go out of her house because of the abuse she was getting on the bus.

"That's why we need new, adequate training for bus drivers to be aware of it - the fact some people with learning disabilities couldn't get on a bus without fear of abuse and intimidation is something which should hurt us all."

Councillor Andy Roberts said the abuse was "abhorrent" and backed a yearly review into hate crimes, domestic abuse and honour attacks.

"It really is a worthy area of scrutiny for us because the scope is massive," he said.

Councillor Ken Pollock said he found the reports of abuse on buses "shocking" while Councillor Richard Udall called for more focus on forced marriages, calling it "cultural conservatism".

Back in January the council revealed it was slashing domestic abuse funding from £912,000 to £462,000 this year, but in March it revealed the figure was being looked at again following concern.

Around half that money goes to West Mercia Women's Aid, which staffs a hotline that received 3,200 calls last year.

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