More children and women in refuges

    The number of children fleeing with their mothers to domestic
    violence refuges in England increased by almost 8 per cent last
    year, according to new research.

    Between April 2003 and March 2004, 23,084 children stayed in
    refuges – an increase of 1,619 on the previous year – according to
    the Survey of Domestic Violence Services, published last week by
    charity Women’s Aid.

    Lee Miller, training and consultancy manager for mental health
    charity Young Minds, said witnessing or overhearing domestic
    violence and the upheaval of moving to a refuge could have a huge
    impact on a child’s mental health.

    He said witnessing domestic violence could cause post-traumatic
    stress disorder later in life and called for all affected children
    to have access to mental health support.

    “They are moving away from all of their community – moving from
    school, from their friends to completely new environments – so it’s
    a huge upheaval,” Miller said. “All of these factors will increase
    their risk of mental health problems.”

    The number of women using refuges also increased 8 per cent to
    18,569. Almost 250,000 women and children used a range of domestic
    violence services including outreach, drop-in centres and floating
    In London, the Metropolitan Police claim that murders involving
    domestic violence have fallen from 47 in the year up to March 2004
    to 23 in the past 11 months.

    The Met attributes this fall to a new risk assessment system
    that helps officers identify the factors which might precipitate an
    attack. It hopes the scheme will be rolled out across the

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