Domestic abuse

Calderdale Domestic Abuse Strategic Board use the Home Office definition of domestic abuse:

"Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over and who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality."

This covers, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

  • psychological;
  • physical;
  • sexual;
  • financial;
  • emotional.

Controlling behaviour: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and / or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim (this definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group).

A new coercive or controlling behaviour offence was introduced in December 2015 which will make it illegal for someone to exercise psychological, emotional or financial control over their partner. Coercive control is often a prelude to violence and can include the abuser preventing their victim from having friendships or hobbies, refusing them access to money, and determining many aspects of their everyday life, such as when they care allowed to eat or sleep.

National Context

Victims of domestic abuse are not confined to a particular gender, ethnic group or sexual orientation.  Domestic abuse affects whole families, including children and the elderly. However, Safe Lives identify certain characteristics that mean victims are more likely to be abused.

What are the characteristics of victims that mean they are more likely to be abused?

  • Gender: women are much more likely than men to be the victims of high risk or severe domestic abuse. 95% of those going to a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) or accessing an Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy (IDVA) service are women;
  • Low income: women in households with an income of less than £10,000 were 3.5 times more at risk than those in households with an income of over £20,000;
  • Age: younger people are more likely to be subject to interpersonal violence. The majority of high risk victims are in their 20s or 30s. Those under 25 are the most likely to suffer interpersonal violence;
  • Pregnancy: nearly one in three women who suffer from domestic abuse during their lifetime, report that the first incidence of violence happened while they were pregnant;
  • Separation: domestic violence is higher amongst those who have separated, followed by those who are divorced or single;
  • Previous criminality of the perpetrator: domestic abuse is more likely where the perpetrator has a previous conviction (whether or not it is related to domestic abuse);
  • Drug and alcohol abuse: victims of abuse have a higher rate of drug and / or alcohol misuse (whether it starts before or after the abuse). At least 20% of high-risk victims of abuse report using drugs and / or alcohol;
  • Mental health issues: 40% of high-risk victims of abuse report mental health difficulties.

Evidence shows that the majority of victims are women, and that women are much more likely than men to be the victims of high risk or severe domestic abuse. However, for every three victims of domestic abuse, two will be female and one will be male. Male victims are nearly twice as likely as female victims not to tell anyone about partner abuse.

Safe Lives estimate that:

  • 85% of victims sought help five times on average from professionals in the year before they got effective help to stop the abuse;
  • 23% of high-risk victims attend Accident and Emergency as a result of their injuries in the year before getting effective help, many multiple times;
  • on average high-risk victims live with domestic abuse for 2.6 years and medium risk victims for 3 years before getting help.

It is recognised that domestic abuse occurs at a similar proportionate rate within lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) relationships as it does within heterosexual relationships, but these victims do not readily access mainstream services.

Younger people are more likely to be subject to interpersonal violence. The majority of high risk victims are in their 20s or 30s. Those under 25 are more likely to suffer inter-personal violence.


There is increasing evidence locally and nationally of impact of the ‘toxic trio’ in cases of neglect and abuse; households where mental health, domestic abuse, and drugs and alcohol abuse are all prevalent, result in negative, long term outcomes for victims, children, families and the wider community. There is an overlap between direct harm to children and domestic abuse. Up to 62% of children from abusive households are themselves directly harmed (Safe Lives).

Children suffer significant multiple physical and mental health consequences as a result of exposure to domestic abuse. Over 50% have behavioural problems, 60% felt responsible, and 39% had problems adjusting at school. (Safe Lives 2014).

Safe Lives data also shows that children’s outcomes significantly improve across all key measures after support from specialist children’s services.

Vulnerable adults

The national report Abuse of vulnerable adults in England 2011-12 cites 22% of those abused were subject to domestic abuse by a family member or partner.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)

Research suggests that members of the LGBT population experience domestic abuse at the same rate as the general population. Calderdale's specialist domestic abuse support service records the number of LGBT victims they are engaged with, and the new specification requires that the service is promoted and accessible to members of the LGBT population, as there is evidence of under-reporting.

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre reveal that more than 1,200 cases of FGM have been recorded in England in between January and March 2016. There were 1,242 newly recorded cases of the practice across NHS England. Of these, 11 cases involved girls born in the United Kingdom, and at least 2% of all new cases were girls under the age of 18.

Forced marriage and honour based violence

Around 400 cases of forced marriage are reported to the national Forced marriage unit each year. Most cases involve girls and young women under the age of 30. 15% of cases involve male victims. Those with learning difficulties are at particular risk. Most incidents take place overseas, though there are a number in Britain, with no overseas element.

Health services

Domestic abuse is rarely just physical assaults. It can also include a mixture of physical and psychological violence, including emotional abuse, criticism, humiliation and undermining. For both men and women, physical intimate partner victimisation was associated with increased risk of current poor health, depressive symptoms, substance use, developing a chronic disease, chronic mental illness and injury.

Perpetrators of domestic abuse have rates of alcohol abuse and dependence up to 7 times higher than the general population. Women experiencing domestic abuse are up to 15 times more likely to have alcohol dependence, and 9 times more likely to have a drug problem.

Results from those who completed a voluntary questionnaire for the British Crime Survey show that 28% of victims reported seeking medical help for physical injury or other effects and of those:

  • 82% attended a General Practitioner (GP);
  • 18% attended Accident and Emergency;
  • 14% attended a mental health service.

The local picture

In 2015/16 there were 4,165 incidents of domestic abuse reported to the Police in Calderdale. This was an increase of 20% compared to the same period last year. Even though the Police recorded 4,165 domestic abuse incidents in Calderdale for 2015/16, the true number of incidents could be 12,495 based on the assumption only a third of cases are reported.

An incident could be any crime including violence, breach of orders, non-crime includes breach of bail, harassment warnings. Approximately 600 victims of domestic abuse engaged with the specialist domestic abuse support service in Calderdale in 2015/16. 136 victims engaged with the Independent Domestic Violence Advocate for high risk victims.

Over the past 12 months there have been 796 recorded male victims in Calderdale which is 20.5% of the total, higher than the West Yorkshire average of 19.2%. However, the national figure is harder to obtain but it is believed that overall one third of the victims of domestic abuse are male.


The Age profile of Domestic abuse victims shows a similarity to the national picture in that over one third of victims are in the 20-29 year old range:

Age profile of victims of domestic incidents

Age range Total Percentage
Under 16 77 2.2%
16 to 19 297 8.4%
20 to 29 1,186 33.7%
30 to 39 925 26.3%
40 to 49 611 17.4%
50 to 59 269 7.7%
60 to 69 106 3.0%
over 70 45 1.3%
Total 3,516 100.0%


Most of the Domestic abuse incidents which are notified to the Police take place in the early evening between 6.00pm and midnight with a peak at midnight.

Time analysis of domestic abuse incidents

With regard to days of the week, over half the incidents take place on and around the weekend (Friday to Sunday), with incidents peaking on Sundays.

Days of the week for domestic incidents


This map shows the domestic abuse incidents and crimes mapped for the whole of Calderdale. There is one marker for each crime and incident that has taken place.

Map of recorded domestic abuse incidents

The number of domestic abuse incidents over a 12 month period, broken down by ward, shows that those with high levels of deprivation (Ovenden, Park and Town) experience high incidents of domestic abuse. There are also higher levels during the summer months of July and August.

Repeat rate

Although the level of domestic abuse incidents in Calderdale is not high compared to other authorities across the region, Calderdale has one of the highest repeat incident rates in West Yorkshire: 42.4% in the year to March 2016.

Criminal justice

Calderdale had an attrition rate of 24.4% in the year to March 2016, an increase of 7% from the previous year. This shows the difference between the numbers of incidents reported to the Police and those ending up as a conviction in court: a low attrition rate is positive.

Victim attrition is measured separately, as is the percentage of cases that fail to reach a positive outcome, and the reason for that failure is a victim or witness reason. For example, the victim retracts their statement or does not attend court for the trial and their evidence is key. Calderdale’s victim attrition rate for the year to March 2016 was 77.8%, above the West Yorkshire average of 61.5%.

The arrest rate in Calderdale in the year to March 2016 was 43.4%, the second highest rate in West Yorkshire. The conviction rate was 80% in Calderdale in the year to March 2016, higher than the West Yorkshire average of 76.8%.

Coercive and controlling behaviour

There was one coercion and control crime recorded in Calderdale in the year to May 2016. This compares to two recorded in Bradford, one in Kirklees and 16 in Leeds. None were recorded in Wakefield.

Forced marriage and honour based violence

Three incidents of Forced marriage were recorded in Calderdale in the year to March 2016. This compares to 59 in Bradford, 24 in Leeds, 9 in Kirklees, and 5 in Wakefield. Data for West Yorkshire shows that victims are most likely to be aged between 18 and 25, with almost 19% aged 16-17 and 9% under 16. 81% were Asian.

There were two Honour based violence incidents recorded in Calderdale in the year to March 2016, but 30 in Bradford, 14 in Leeds, 6 in Kirklees and 2 in Wakefield. West Yorkshire data shows that, again, victims were most likely to be aged 18 to 25 (41%), with 5 % aged 16-17 and 5% aged under 16. 77% were Asian and 2% black.

Children in Calderdale

The police contact children’s social care, not only where a child or young person is the victim, perpetrator or witnesses domestic abuse, but also where a person is known to be pregnant or an incident is recorded at a household where it is known children reside. In 2015/16, the number of contacts and notifications relating to domestic abuse was 1,735.

66 children and young people were supported by the specialist children’s support service.

Also, 41.4% of the families engaged with the Calderdale Troubled families programme have domestic abuse as a factor.


It is expected that the proportion of Black and minority ethnicity (BME) individuals to be accessing support services is around the same proportion of the Calderdale BME population, which is currently 13.3% (2011 Census).

Approximately 8% of reports of domestic abuse to West Yorkshire Police are from victims who are either black, Asian or defined as “other” ethnicity. 9% of those referred to a Multi agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) were from the BME community. Referrals to the Independent Domestic violence advocate service engaged with 12% Asian victims, 2.6% were black individuals, 4% were dual heritage and 2% Chinese. Of the women supported by the WomenCentre between October 2015 and March 2016, 8% of service users were from BME communities.

51% of referrals to the Refuge in 2014/15 (115/227) were white British and 26% (58) Pakistani.

No recourse to public funds

Between October 2015 and March 2016, there were a total of 17 referrals to the Refuge with no recourse to public funds.


MARAC data does not record religion, neither does the police nor the commissioned services. The Refuge was able to supply the data in this table for 2013/2014:

Breakdown of referral religions

Referral religion Number Percentage General population percentage
Christian 94 41% 56%
Buddhist 0 0% 0%
Hindu 1 0% 0%
Jewish 0 0% 0%
Muslim 64 28% 7%
Sikh 3 1% 0%
Other 20 9% 0%
None 9 4% 28%
Not known 36 16% 7%
Total 227    

HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) and domestic abuse

The Brunswick Centre provides sexual health and HIV services across Calderdale and Kirklees. Due to demographic factors around HIV they work mostly with gay and bisexual men and with women and men of black African origin. Among their caseload of Calderdale residents, the Brunswick Centre estimated around 25% of clients (around 20 individuals) are experiencing domestic violence and abuse.

Drugs and alcohol

Studies of domestic violence frequently indicate high rates of alcohol and other drug use by perpetrators during abuse. The issues of domestic violence and substance abuse can interact with and exacerbate each other and should be treated simultaneously. Police data on the link between these issues locally is limited.

Safeguarding adults

The Calderdale Adult Safeguarding Board has been working to ensure domestic abuse is understood and works with the MARAC and Domestic Abuse Hub. Adult services have not recorded where safeguarding alerts are related to domestic abuse, although this will be recorded for 2016/17.

However, between April and Sept 2015 a sample of 50 cases were considered, where there had been alleged abuse. 34 of these cases were identified as domestic abuse. In 24 of the cases the perpetrator was identified as “co-resident”, 9 as partner and 9 as carer.

In 22 of the 34 cases no further action was taken, 9 were accepted as a Safeguarding referral, and 9 referred for care management.


Domestic violence can take unique forms different to those individuals without a disability, for example those reliant on a family member’s care could find medicine is withheld or they are not taken to the toilet.

Of the referrals to the Refuge, 15.0% identified themselves as having a disability, 81.9% as having no disability, and 3.1% refused to disclose the information. 16% of those engaged with Independent domestic violence advisors (IDVA) in 2015/16 (high risk victims) identified themselves as having a disability.

Current provision

Joint commissioning

In 2015, key partners pooled funding under the Calderdale Domestic Abuse Strategic Board in order to provide a consistent approach to funding domestic abuse services, using a needs led approach and working to shared priorities. These are:

  • Reduce the incidence of domestic abuse;
  • reduce the repeat incidence of domestic abuse;
  • safeguard adult and child victims of domestic abuse.

Specialist support

The service has been commissioned using the pooled budget under the Domestic Abuse Strategic Board. The Womencentre have been awarded the contract, which started in July 2016. It includes an emphasis on early intervention and prevention and delivery of the following:

  • Domestic abuse support service including crisis support for males and females;
  • IDVA service for high risk victims
  • support for children and young people experiencing domestic abuse in the household or in their own relationships;
  • training and workforce development.

Refuge and temporary accommodation for victims of domestic abuse

The Refuge service is delivered by Stonham and provides support for 21 women and their children, at least 10 of which are for BME women. A resettlement service is also provided for up to 10 women who are re-housed in the Calderdale area leaving the refuge. 70% of those accessing the Refuge are from outside Calderdale. It is understood that many victims of domestic abuse need to leave the area and that Refuge provision is part of a national network.

Housing options service

The Council’s Housing options service supports about 33 women and 2 men each year who have been made homeless due to domestic abuse, by providing temporary accommodation.

Calderdale sanctuary scheme

The Sanctuary scheme helps victims of domestic violence to remain in their own home if they want to do so. This service is available to home owners as well as those in private rented or housing association accommodation. In 2013/14 there were 69 sanctuary referrals in Calderdale. The service provides security measures such as locks to enable victims to stay in their own homes.

Family intervention

Calderdale Council and Pennine Family Intervention Teams’ core work is with families experiencing domestic abuse, providing support for parents and children. Cases discussed at the Domestic abuse hub, where children are involved, will be referred for early intervention support. Referrals are made to specialist services or Multi agency screening team (MAST) where appropriate.

Domestic abuse hub

A Calderdale Domestic abuse hub went live in January 2016, aiming to reduce repeat victimisation, reduce risk, improve communication, make risk assessments more consistent and provide an earlier and improved victim response. The Hub is a multi-agency daily meeting where partners share information and agree on interventions with victims, children and perpetrators. It will eventually merge with the MARAC process and the daily meeting will discuss all high risk cases and medium cases which are recorded as a crime.

Family drug and alcohol court (FDAC)

Calderdale is part of a regional pilot of this initiative which provides intense support to those families at risk of having children taken into care due to substance misuse and domestic abuse.

Pregnancy and domestic abuse

There is a specialist domestic abuse midwife based at Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust (CHFT). All pregnant women are asked antenatally about domestic abuse, and referred to the WomenCentre or to national organisations as appropriate. The specialist midwife works with 40 women a year by providing antenatal, antepartum and postnatal care: this figure is across both Calderdale and Huddersfield. The Multi agency pregnancy liaison group (MAPLAG) meets to discuss pregnant women known to substance abuse services, but many of these women are also known to the police as victims of domestic abuse.

At CHFT, mandatory training for all staff involves domestic abuse awareness, and specific domestic abuse training is also available, mostly focused on women’s and children’s services, eg health visitors and midwives.


There are now two voluntary perpetrators programmes in Calderdale, and each includes support for the victim alongside intervention with the perpetrator. Both programmes started in early 2016 and so information on outcomes is not yet available as perpetrators have not yet completed the programme.

The Choices programme works with those aged 16 and over, including those on conditional cautions and delivers bespoke early intervention work to prevent re-offending. There have been 27 referrals to date and most have been made via the Domestic abuse hub.

The Yorkshire Children’s Centre programme works with the male programme aged 18 and over. It provides longer term structured support following Respect standards. There have been 28 referrals to date, from a range of sources including Children’s Social Care.

The Probation Service provides support for those in the criminal justice process. Offenders join the programme after assessment by the probation officer. The probation officer assesses the individual’s suitability to change and their risk level, eg high risk means the offender is very likely to commit domestic abuse again in the future.

User views

In 2015 Huddersfield University were commissioned by the Domestic Abuse Strategic Board to carry out research with victims of domestic abuse in Calderdale. The views were used to help shape our services both under the new support service contract and in other strands of work taking place. Researchers spoke to 61 victims across Calderdale. Recommendations from the research include:

An education, awareness-raising and information campaign across Calderdale

  • An on-going programme of work in schools with children and young people, identifying the nature of both domestic abuse and healthy relationships;
  • a substantial awareness raising exercise across Calderdale informing the general public as to the nature, and the unacceptability, of domestic abuse, how to report and what services are available;
  • involvement by survivors in services.

Other recommendations

  • Services for male survivors of domestic abuse, and these should be well publicised;
  • the Calderdale Refuge should be staffed for lengthier periods;
  • there should be more provision for perpetrators of domestic abuse;
  • all relevant practitioner groups should receive one or more of:
    • more training on domestic abuse;
    • more substantial training;
    • more regular training.

Unmet need

A number of areas of unmet need have been highlighted and addressed in the specification for the new service to be in place from July 2016, including:

  • The need for out of hours support for victims;
  • the need for outreach services in locations with a high prevalence;
  • the need to engage with more victims and earlier;
  • the need for a strong programme of preventative work;
  • a programme of work with newly settled communities;
  • support for male and female victims;
  • reduced repeat victimisation.

Projected future need

  • Preventative work with children and young people will be a priority in future in order to make a sustained and fundamental change to attitudes and behaviour in relation to healthy relationships;
  • sustained and coordinated work is needed to mitigate the impact of domestic abuse on children’s emotional wellbeing;
  • the planned court closure in October 2016 have an impact on victims and services;
  • outcomes from the perpetrators programmes will inform future planning;
  • work with newly settled communities to highlight the support available and the consequences of domestic abuse.

Key considerations linked to the known evidence base (what works?)

Calderdale draft Domestic abuse strategy for 2016 to 2019 includes:

  • Preventative work on Healthy relationships in schools;
  • a communication plan to raise awareness amongst victims, perpetrators and professionals;
  • work to coordinate support for those victims recorded as standard risk to reduce repeat victimisation;
  • multi agency training for professionals to ensure all those coming into contact with victims give the right support;
  • reduction in waiting times and numbers of children and young people on waiting list for specialist support;
  • more support for those victims going through the criminal justice process;
  • awareness raising about forced marriage and honour based violence.

References and further information


Further information

For more details, see: Further resources .

Calderdale Domestic abuse needs assessment 2014

Always open first panel: 


Rachel Pickering, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Project Manager, Children and Young People's Service, Calderdale Council

June 2016

See also