She did not stop until she managed to reduce the UK domestic violence by 64% in 2009. Committed to the cause, Baroness Scotland, former attorney general for England and Wales, visited Casa África to deliver a workshop for public officials and NGOs on her method to tackle this blot on society. The clue: setting up a local and national plan of all social agents.
Baroness Scotland and former attorney general for England and Wales
“My plan against domestic violence can save lives and money”
LA PROVINCIA / LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA, 7 June 2014
As the founder of Global Foundation to Eliminate Domestic Violence (EDV), a British NGO to tackle this social ordeal, you have run today a workshop to a group of public officials at Casa África about your work method that you have carried out in over 100 countries. What does it consist of and what are the key pillars?
The first one, to be able to identify the needs of any particular country. The second is to… So you have a base line: what are the problems, how are they manifesting itself, how many people, where are they, what is the age configuration, so you know how many old, how many young, how many gay, how many straight. So you’re really able to map the need. You then need to do an order of all the agencies, the institutions and the individuals that are already working in this field: what are they doing, looking at how much is already been spent on all of this by all the different local government of agencies, the central government, the NGOs, etc.
So once you map the need you’ve ordered what you are already doing, you then can see the gaps, where are the gaps where the need is not being met and then to put a strategic national plan together, or regional or local plan, so all the individuals who are entities who are seeking to address this issue can do it more creatively in partnership. The big thing is how do you address this multifaceted issue in a multifaceted response, which will meet the needs of the issue.
Is there a true willingness of governments to eradicate this social problem? What else must be done at schools, families…?
I think what we have done in the UK, what we did as EDV is a methodology which will enable people who are committed to bringing about this change to actually deliver it. But it does mean that all of us have to choose to do it. And I think there is a lot of worry and concern that there isn’t enough money and this would be too difficult and too complex. And I hope what we have done is to demonstrate how you can save lives and save money because implementation of this approach tends to maximize the impact of every pound or euro which is spent because you’re making sure that you’re only spending that pound once. You’ve cut out duplication, you’ve cut out overlap, you’re joining people together, so the way in which you work is the most effective and the most sufficient.
You burnt yourself out to fight against domestic violence, and after your performance, it was reported that the UK rate was reduced by 64%. How did you manage to do so?
We did it basically by the process of just identifying by understanding how much money we were already spending. So we did an economic assessment, before we started this work, of the money. And we found that it was costing the UK 23 billion pounds.
Per year. But 17 billion was economic cost, so 17 was paying injury, loss and suffering, which is really the amount someone would pay not to suffer from this. But if you strip it down, it was the 3.1 billion was money hard cash being spent by government, local and central, and 2.7 billion was the loss of profitability to business. So if you just put those two figures together, you would have at least 5.8 billion and that was sort of hard cash that was being spent.
“We have to identify the needs of a particular country and how they manifest itself”
“We found if you have a holistic respond to domestic violence, no matter what the level, it goes down”
“For every pound we spend on this, we save 6”
“1 in 3 women across the world will suffer just from sexual and physical violence not including emotional, psychological, financial”
The domestic violence rate in Denmark is quite daunting. According to a recent report of European Union agency for fundamental rights, 52% of Danish women think they have suffered a kind of violence, whether is physical, sexual, or physically, which is a figure considerably higher than the European average, 33%. Why is that in this northern country?
I think one of the things is to understand how violence can manifest itself in different communities. We all countries in our world unfortunately have this as part of the DNA of how people operate. According to the World Health Organisation it is 1 in 3 women across the world will suffer just from sexual and physical violence not including emotional, psychological, financial. So I think it’s important to look at each country and to understand what the mechanisms are in that country which drives in one area or another. What we have found was if you have a holistic respond to it, no matter what the level, it goes down. So it may differ in our different countries for number of cultural or national reasons, but we have discovered is the basis of it is identical, whether is the power, the unbalance, the way in which operates.
As you said, it will affect every sector.
Everybody, every sector. So we know that it’s affecting every sector, we know that it’s the present in all our countries. And what we think we’ve done is that this methodology which says we’ll do a need space assessment for your country and in doing that need space assessment will understand how, why and who are affected. Then we’ll do the order to what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, with whom you’re doing it and we will be able to see the gaps. And then filling those gaps to have a national plan which will fit your needs.
And last but not least, what would you say to politicians that, due to economic downturn, they say they have to cut back on budget specifically for this matter.
I think I would say to them: you have a choice as to how you cut. We are all in a very difficult position financially, but if you are to adopt an approach which intervenes early on this issue, you will save a huge amount of money. For every pound we spend on this, we save 6. So this is a real invest to save, and if you are smart, you will be able to work in a way that will deliver change on the ground and save you money at the same time. So if we are in trouble and we want to save money, I do this.
I would like to repeat one of your last sentences: “Ready to fail, but determined to try”. It has been an honour and a pleasure.
And thank you so much for being with La Provincia.