Police unite with Northamptonshire’s hairdressers to cut out domestic abuse
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Northamptonshire Police has launched a major campaign called #CutItOut, aimed at hair and beauty professionals and the wider public as part of its priority to tackle domestic abuse.
The project was launched today (Monday, November 25) to coincide with International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Its aim is to raise awareness and train salon professionals to recognise the warning signs of domestic abuse and safely refer clients to relevant organisations that can help them.
The #CutItOut brand originated in Norwich, Norfolk, following a tragic murder. In 2017, weeks after confiding in her hairdresser Annie Reilly, Kerri McAuley was killed by an abusive partner. As a result of this, the campaign, which has since seen success in Rochdale too, was developed.
The launch is the first training event for more than 160 of Northampton’s hair and beauty professionals and further events will take place across the county over the coming months.
Annie Reilly, who was at the launch, has spoken of her guilt for not going to the authorities after Kerri confided in her as she did her hair. She said: “One day when she came to an appointment she talked about her boyfriend and said ‘I know he’s going to kill me’. They were words I never thought I’d hear any of my clients say.
“Should I have phoned the police? Yes, of course I should have done – but I didn’t know they were words that were meant. I just thought it was a statement, a figure of speech.
“Every day I think about her and about what I could have done and what difference it could have made. I’m passionate about this campaign because as hairdressers, many of our clients will confide in us and we need to be equipped with the right information so we can help them in the best way we can.”
Fiona Campbell, CEO of Voice for Victims and Witnesses said: “This campaign is important to raise awareness of gender based violence, and which agencies in Northamptonshire are available to support people if they are in an abusive relationship and wish to seek help. Voice knows how difficult it can be to speak out or seek help, but it’s never too late to do so.
"Voice is a free and confidential support service for anyone living in the county who has been a victim or witness of crime even if it hasn't been reported to police. Neither does it matter when or where the crime was committed. You know longer need to suffer in silence - whatever your situation, Voice is here to help you”.
Chief Inspector Julie Mead, who is the force lead for adult safeguarding, said: “The relationship between these professionals and their clients and co-workers is often close and intimate and they may well be able to spot signs of physical abuse that others might not see.
“They are also skilled and experienced listeners, personally interested in the lives of those around them. Their clients tend to feel comfortable talking to them and potentially confiding in them about domestic abuse, even if they would never tell anyone else. They really can be valuable and influential in the fight against domestic abuse.
“People are more likely to talk to someone they trust about abuse rather than report it to the police. The salon may be the ideal place to seek help as it could be one of the few places their abuser will allow them to go, or go without them.
“We want to offer these professionals training on how to be confident in spotting the signs of abuse and how to refer people to get help. We’re going to be running a 12-month, countywide roadshow to make this happen.”
Assistant Chief Constable James Andronov added: “Tackling domestic abuse is a priority for the Force and everyone has a role to play in preventing and supporting those affected.
“Domestic abuse can be physical or psychological and affects women, men and children, from all walks of life. It isn’t always easy to spot and it can be even harder to talk about but through our awareness-raising we hope to instil the importance of being curious, asking questions and look out for some of the red flags like controlling behaviour, constant surveillance and violence.
“Hairdressers and therapists are in a unique position to help those who may be experiencing any type of abuse, reassure them and encourage them to take the first steps to getting safe.”
At today’s event the hairdressers will be trained to spot the signs of domestic abuse (particularly the more subtle elements of coercion and control). They will then be given advice on how to support clients, what to say, what to avoid saying, and what other support is available locally and nationally. Hopefully this will enable hairdressers to support their clients, and provide them with options where possible.
The campaign is being funded by Northamptonshire’s Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and Northamptonshire Police.
Further details will become available over the next few weeks on the Northamptonshire Police website and its social media channels. Salon professionals who would like to know more can contact CutItOut@northants.pnn.police.uk
#CutItOut forms part of Northamptonshire Police’s wider strategy in tackling domestic abuse, which is one of the force’s priorities. It affects thousands of people in the county every year: 16,139 incidents of domestic abuse were recorded between September 2017 and December 2018 and 4.6% of these incidents had a sexual element. In the UK, 25% of women and 17% of men will experience some form of domestic abuse at some point in their life.
If you are concerned about a friend, relative or colleague, or are suffering from domestic abuse, the following links offer guidance and advice.