Health and probation staff require training to meet needs of victims

    Health and probation services are failing to meet the needs of
    domestic violence victims because of a lack of time and training,
    damning reports published this week have revealed.

    A report by the Inspectorate of Probation, based on visits to seven
    probation areas, shows that insufficient consideration was given to
    victim safety issues in two-thirds of cases sampled.

    Only one in five cases were considered good in relation to the
    management of risks posed by those who beat their partners, and
    none were considered excellent. Just 59 per cent of cases included
    an analysis of the risk of harm to any children in the
    household.

    Chief Inspector of Probation Andrew Bridges said he was seriously
    concerned by the findings. He claimed the report showed there was
    “much room for improvement”.

    Probation officers blamed lack of time for proper research into
    ex-offenders’ personal circumstances. However, a joint report by
    the Home Office and the Regulatory Impact Unit’s public sector team
    published last week outlined measures to cull unnecessary paperwork
    in seven key areas to allow probation officers to spend more time
    managing offenders.

    A separate study of patients attending gynaecology out-patient and
    antenatal clinics finds that, although 15 per cent of female
    patients have suffered domestic violence abuse, only 5 per cent of
    these patients are questioned as to whether they have been
    victims.

    The nine-week study at the University Hospital Wales in Cardiff
    reveals that 77 per cent of women asked said they would not mind
    being questioned about domestic violence abuse.

    However, researcher Dr Lian Blake said doctors were unwilling to
    ask due to a lack of training and support.

    A spokesperson for domestic violence charity Women’s Aid said one
    in nine women using health services had been hurt by someone they
    knew or lived with.

    It wants the government to make clear that action on domestic
    violence within the NHS is required – complete with performance
    indicators – to allow the development of an effective health
    strategy.

    It also calls for all health staff to receive domestic violence
    training as part of their professional development.

    – Probation report from
    www.homeoffice.gov.uk/justice/probation/inspprob/index.html

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