THE scourge of domestic abuse is costing Portsmouth £13.5m a year, The News can reveal.
More than £6m is spent by the NHS on the epidemic, with the cost to police at £2m.
The criminal justice system spends £3m, with £1m spent by children’s social services and £600,000 by Portsmouth City Council’s housing budget.
Claire Lambon, chief executive of Southern Domestic Abuse Service, runs a city-council commissioned service for victims.
Ms Lambon said: ‘People don’t recognise the real cost of domestic abuse because it’s not just delivering services to the victim it’s about the cost of other services – to children who are affected by domestic abuse, the future impact that might have, or perpetrators’ programmes, whether that’s the criminal justice system or prosecuting perpetrators.’
She added: ‘It’s not a police call out, ambulance attendance and housing move – it’s not as simple as that.
‘Society underestimates the impact that domestic abuse has on individuals and the cost it has to the public purse – it’s also the cost to that individual affected.’
Hidden costs include having to move children to a different school and pay for refuges, with the effects of the crime spreading out over decades, Ms Lambon added.
Details of the cost were revealed in the council’s Safer Portsmouth Partnership Plan 2018-2020, set for approval at a cabinet meeting next week.
Around 40 per cent of sex crimes in Hampshire are domestic abuse linked, with this increasing to 50 per cent of rapes in Portsmouth.
Shonagh Dillon, chief executive of domestic abuse charity Aurora New Dawn, said: ‘The figures of the costs spent on supporting survivors of domestic abuse in the city shouldn’t come as a surprise.
‘The stark reality of the costs of domestic abuse are well known.
‘Local authority areas need to spend money on services that not only aim to prevent domestic abuse but also support people and children who are experiencing a situation that has long term effects on their lives.’
Portsmouth’s most senior police officer Supt Maggie Blyth, city district commander, said: ‘The public don’t appreciate how much police time is taken up in domestic abuse. We prioritise responding to those vulnerable victims of domestic violence.’
FAMILIES MOST AFFECTED BY ABUSE
WORK is under way to help families affected by domestic abuse.
Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said domestic abuse was the ‘thread’ that ran through families with the most problems in the city.
Councillor Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Trying to reduce domestic violence is absolutely crucial if we’re going to target turning round the lives of families who are in the greatest crises in the city.’
Cllr Dave Ashmore, cabinet member for environment and community safety, added: ’Domestic abuse is a national issue with a high human cost, resulting in serious psychological, emotional and physical consequences.
‘To address issues locally here in the city, the council funds the Portsmouth IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Advocate) Project who provide support to victims considered to be at high risk of death or serious harm. It also jointly commissioned the Southern Domestic Abuse Service (SDAS) with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).’
Portsmouth South Labour MP Stephen Morgan added: ‘The true cost of domestic abuse can’t be captured in pounds, it’s an appalling scourge on our society. I’ve been meeting with organisations in our city who provide vital support services.’
He said Labour would give victims 10 days paid leave to move home.
Conservative Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said: ‘Tackling domestic abuse and the underlying causes of it is vital.
‘The costs to the public purse are huge, but worst still is the human toll. Public services are also getting better at working together and becoming more effective to supporting families.’
Call SDAS on (023) 9206 5494.