The Director of Public Health's Annual Report 2018-19 highlights how work by the Local Authority’s Public Health team, in collaboration with Hampshire Constabulary and partners, is helping to tackle the causes of violent personal crime in the county.
Councillor Judith Grajewski, Executive Member for Public Health at the County Council, quoting the report said, “Whilst the rate of violent incidents in Hampshire is low compared to many other parts of the country, the numbers are increasing, and the impact of each incident is devastating for the individuals, families and communities affected. Serious inter-personal violence has a range of complex causes and takes many forms - not all of which are visible. It has negative economic and social consequences and is a significant cause of physical, mental and emotional ill health.
“The Local Authority has an important contribution to make in helping to reduce this type of violence, particularly in relation to violent crime perpetrated within a family or in the community. It is in these areas that Public Health has most influence, or responsibility for, through the support services we directly commission and the partnerships we contribute to or lead.”
The report focuses on a number of key areas including - drug and alcohol related violence, domestic violence, child and adolescent to parent violence and sexual violence, and sets out some of the key prevention actions already being taken by the County Council and partners. These include:
• Commissioning a Hampshire-wide substance misuse service to help people overcome dependency on drugs and alcohol, including comprehensive drugs and alcohol support and targeted work with vulnerable young people;
• Joint work with criminal justice, health and social care organisations to protect vulnerable adults and young people who are at most risk of drug related harm and exploitation;
• Commissioning a Hampshire-wide Domestic Abuse Support Service providing refuge, outreach, high risk independent Domestic Violence Advisor support, group work, therapeutic children’s support, resettlement and move-on support services. Also included is a public awareness programme, plus the education of children and young people about healthy relationships;
• Tackling perpetrator behaviour, and increasing perpetrators’ accountability and responsibility, through the work of the Support Service; and
• A range of relationship and sex education programmes in primary and secondary schools, in addition to County Council-commissioned sexual health services which include provision for the early identification and intervention for violence, especially domestic violence.
Looking forward, the report highlights a number of key priorities for further action such as:
• Improving children and young people’s emotional health by implementing the Starting Well for Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Strategy;
• Ensuring that schools are aware of the comprehensive drugs and alcohol support services available to them;
• Shaping the availability of alcohol in local areas, by providing public health advice to districts/boroughs and supporting the licensing process; and
• Ensuring all frontline health and care services work together to identify, support and refer those at risk of violence, those experiencing violence and those who perpetrate violence.
The World Health Organisation states that ‘almost all violence is predictable and therefore preventable’, and that evidence supports the effectiveness of prevention activities. Public Health in Hampshire works alongside colleagues in relevant agencies to prevent violence from happening, to mitigate harm where violence occurs, and to deliver evidence-based programmes that contribute to an overall reduction in violence and harm.