North Shore domestic violence unit focuses on potentially lethal cases

Victims have access to shelter and experts in crisis management, including a First Nations worker

CBC News Posted: Jul 12, 2016 4:08 PM PT Last Updated: Jul 12, 2016 4:08 PM PT
A new centre to support women and families experiencing domestic violence opened Tuesday on Vancouver's North Shore.
Officials unveiled the North Shore Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) based at West Vancouver Police Headquarters.
It's a unit "that is near and dear to my heart," said Mike Morris, the minister of Public Safety.
An integrated team of front-line workers will include members from the RCMP, victim services and a child protection worker.
"Domestic violence was unfortunately part of my youth growing up," said Morris.
"I spent 32 years in the RCMP and domestic violence was a major part of the work I did."
Across Vancouver's North Shore, there are an average of 1,200 cases of domestic violence reported every year, according to Hollyburn Family Services Society, another community partner of the DVU.
Of those, 180 are considered high-risk, potentially lethal cases. It's these serious cases that will be the focus of the new unit.
"Coordination around these cases is critical," said Nanette Taylor, executive director of Hollyburn.

First Nations partnership

It is now the eighth DVU in B.C. after locations opened in Abbotsford, the Capital Region, New Westminster, Surrey, Vancouver, Kelowna and Nanaimo.
But the North Shore location marks the first partnership with the Aboriginal community.
A Squamish First Nation justice worker will be included in the front-line workers at the unit.
"If we have the trust and the relationship with those communities, it will be that much more likely that the information will be divulged," said Taylor.
According to an RCMP report from 2014, First Nations women are at a 30 per cent higher risk of fatal domestic abuse than the general population.

Provincial initiative

Taking action on domestic violence is part of the province's Violence Free BC. initiative
"(The unit) will create the atmosphere. It will create the conditions that we can move forward to make sure that everybody is safe in our community," said Morris.
"It's something we need to get a handle on. This is a step in the right direction."
Morris also commented on the recent homicide charges in Port Moody, where a house fire took the life of a mother of six.
"Too often we see tragedies ... where people suffer in silence, and nobody knows what their life is like behind closed doors."
The funding comes from B.C.'s Civil Forfeiture Office, which has contributed $1.7 million to support the centres, so far.
Across B.C., an average of 32 women seek shelter every day according to the provincial government and the latest statistics show in 2014 an estimated 70,000 sexual assault incidents were reported in B.C.