University to host international symposium on domestic violence

Coventry University is preparing to host an international symposium on domestic violence next week, amid a national debate around the recent introduction by the Home Office of its ‘Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme’.

The symposium, which takes place on Thursday 15th March, marks the culmination of a week-long visit to Coventry by partners of the ICEBERG project – an initiative funded by the European Commission (EC) to establish a cohesive, Europe-wide model to help vulnerable women throughout the continent.

Coventry University, as the UK partner in the project, is hosting the event to share good practice from across Europe in the fight against gender violence, and will be joined by institutions from several other nations including Bulgaria, France and Spain.

The symposium follows an announcement by the Home Office earlier this week that a new Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme – named ‘Clare’s Law’ in memory of Clare Wood, who was murdered by her former partner in Greater Manchester in 2009 – will be piloted from this summer which will help victims or potential victims of abuse by disclosing information about previous violent offending by their partner.

ICEBERG – a metaphor used to denote the under-reporting of domestic abuse across Europe – forms part of the wider European Commission-funded Daphne programme, which was established to protect children, young people and women from any type of violence at home or in public.

As part of the initiative, a local coalition has been established between the University, Coventry City Council and West Midlands Police to develop community policies related to domestic abuse and to inform the creation of local networks of specialist teams whose job it will be to identify those in danger and provide help.

The coalition has already run two successful debates on the topic at Coventry University – one entitled ‘Dispelling the myths around domestic violence’ – which brought together almost 150 students to promote discussion around and raise awareness of the issue. The results of the debate will be showcased during the symposium.

Diane Phimister, associate head of the Department of Nursing and Health Studies and ICEBERG project leader at Coventry University, said: Domestic abuse remains one of the most hidden crimes in society, with many cases going undetected and unreported. Our main objective through the ICEBERG project is to raise awareness of the problem and contribute to a reduction in the number of women being beaten and dying at the hands of their partners.

“This symposium is an important event not just for Coventry University but for the region as a whole, representing as it does an opportunity for the West Midlands to position itself at the forefront of an international collaborative stance against domestic abuse. Everyone involved is excited to be part of something that will develop and support initiatives for women and children living in fear of violence.”

Every day over 11,000 women and children benefit from the support of domestic abuse services in England. While it is estimated that less than half of all incidents are reported to the police, the authorities nevertheless receive one domestic abuse call every minute in the UK.

The International Domestic Violence Symposium will take place on Thursday 15th March at the TechnoCentre at Coventry University’s Technology Park. The event will run from 10am–1pm and is free to attend. Refreshments will be provided.

If you would like to attend, please contact Sarah Wixon on 024 7679 5192 or at