March to cast spotlight on domestic abuse

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Borderers will take to the streets of Hawick tomorrow (Friday) evening to highlight the scourge of gender-based violence.

Organised by the local Violence Against Women Partnership, the Reclaim The Night march will start at 6.30pm at Sainsbury’s car park in the town’s Commercial Road.

Now in its fourth year, it will make its way along High Street before concluding with a rally, featuring music and refreshments, at Tower Mill.

The event comes a week after a meeting in Newtown heard that reported incidents of domestic abuse had increased in the Borders in the six months from April 1 this year.

Chief Inspector John Scott told the Police, Fire & Rescue and Safer Communities Board that 436 incidents had been reported – up from 418 for the same period in 2013.

However, he believed that rise reflected a “level of confidence” by victims in the police who now carried out initial checks and a risk assessment within 24 hours of receiving a report.

Over the six months, police had only twice failed to meet this target when the victims refused to be contacted, although officers ensured on both occasions that the alleged perpetrators were not in the family home and did not represent a threat.

“Because of the increased focus on domestic abuse by the police, it is likely more cases are being correctly identified rather than there being a rise in actual incidents,” said CI Scott.

He said that over the six months, the number of women in the Borders calling the national domestic abuse helpline fell from 107 to 71.

The number of children placed on the Child Protection Register as a result of domestic abuse fell from 10 to six, compared to last year and the number of victims presenting themselves as homeless to escape violence was down from 93 to 47.

“This suggests that local intervention work and advocacy support is having a positive impact in allowing victims to stay in their own homes,” said CI Scott.

He said a survey of victims and families exiting the specialist support services available in the Borders revealed that 82 per cent felt their safety had “much improved”, while 100 per cent acknowledged “some improvement”.