Initiative providing specialist and dedicated support to victims of domestic abuse is rolled out across Cheshire Date published: 14th September 2017 9.15am

Officers at Cheshire Constabulary will work with Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) across Cheshire as part of a domestic abuse early intervention and victim support initiative for those suffering from abuse involving intimate partners.

The initiative involves a dedicated police officer and an IDVA jointly assessing the domestic abuse incidents that have been reported to police, and carrying out follow-up visits to each victim to provide specialist information, advice and support.

During those follow-up visits, a plain clothed officer and an IDVA will meet the victim face-to-face and provide a quick and supportive service, along with a better understanding of the process.

While police officers progress the investigation, the IDVA can provide a dedicated service to the victim, not only supporting them emotionally but also helping them keep safe and secure and gain financial independence.

Victims who were visited by a police officer and IDVA described the initiative as a supportive service, quicker response and looking at the victim’s best interests.

“Because of the situation I was in they’ve actually kind of helped me restart my life again in a different area. It’s nice to be able to go out and nobody know me or know the gossip and to know that I can feel safe walking about.”

“I feel safe, I feel like I’m coming back. I feel like me a bit more now. My little girl’s gone back to preschool so knowing she’s safe, where she is, knowing that he hasn’t got a clue where she is.”

“I feel more confident in ringing people, that’s the main thing for me and actually being able to ask for help.”

“I think it’s made me more confident, because before I would never tell people. I used to think I’m not telling anyone about the abuse and I never used to go out and stuff or tell anyone my problems but now I feel like I can talk to the police when I need to.”

The scheme will initially run county-wide for the next nine months. The service will run during the weekend and on Monday day shifts – often the peak periods for reported domestic abuse incidents.

Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Lee, Cheshire Police’s lead for domestic abuse, said: “The pilot scheme has been extremely effective having already helped dozens of victims in Runcorn and I’m pleased it is going to be rolled out to other victims across Cheshire to enable them to receive the same dedicated support.

“Working alongside IDVAs has been imperative in helping us to engage more with victims, giving them the confidence to open up to officers while at the same time being given specialist and ongoing support.

“Our commitment in protecting victims of domestic abuse is paramount and I want to reach out to those who need our help and support. We are here for you, please make contact with us.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, David Keane said: “Tackling domestic abuse in Cheshire is extremely important to me.

“One of my policing priorities is to support victims and protect the vulnerable and I am extremely proud of the partnership work being carried out by IDVAs and Cheshire officers.

“Having the courage to speak out about this terrible crime is a very brave thing to do and this scheme provides crucial support, advice and understanding at a time when victims need it most.”

Warrington Borough Council’s executive board member for statutory health and adult social care, Cllr Pat Wright said: “It’s vital that victims of domestic abuse are given fast, effective support, so it’s great news that this scheme is being introduced to Warrington and the wider sub-region.

“I’m hopeful that the scheme – with its focus on effective partnership working - will bring real benefits to victims, by providing a comprehensive and flexible service, which fully responds to their needs.”

Councillor George Hayes, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “This new initiative will build on the range of services we already offer in Cheshire East that support both those who are affected by domestic abuse and those who need to change abusive behaviours.

“It is really positive to be starting on this new way of working with our partners in Cheshire Police, which we hope will engage people as early as possible in their experience of abuse and help to take up support services at an early stage.

“We think that providing this face-to-face work will increase victims’ confidence in services and offer a good start to the kind of trusting relationship with specialist services that leads to long-term safety and recovery.”

Cllr Dave Cargill, Halton Borough Council’s Executive Board member for Community Safety, says: “The findings from the evaluation of the Operation Enhance pilot are very encouraging. It is good news that it is going to be rolled out so that more victims of domestic abuse can receive this dedicated support to enable them to get their lives back on track and remain safe both emotionally and physically.”

If you are a victim of domestic abuse please contact Cheshire Police on 101, alternatively in an emergency ring 999. If you want to get in touch with a specialist service please contact the national 24/7 Helpline on 0808 2000 247.