Domestic abuse advisors support police at incidents
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Nearly one in every five incidents of police-recorded crime is related to domestic abuse. Northamptonshire Police has made domestic abuse a matter of priority, and is now using the expertise of specialist Crisis Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) at some police incidents. This is to better help safeguard victims of domestic abuse and ensure they are aware of the support available to them.
The Crisis IDVAs work from the Force Control Room to assist both call handlers and police officers dealing with live domestic abuse incidents. In addition, they also partner with officers in attending visits to victims, in order to offer the victim and their family, support.
The advisors are specially trained in crisis intervention, and can offer practical advice and explain the help and support available for victims. They also risk access and help victims to put individual safety plans in place. Furthermore, they can help with the next steps should someone want to leave an abusive relationship, and also arrange for support during criminal justice proceedings.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Hopkinson, who leads the Northamptonshire Police Domestic Abuse Team said: “Having the expertise of these skilled professionals working in partnership with us, to help victims through what is often a violent and traumatic incident, is enormously beneficial to both the victim and to the police. Our joint aim is to ensure the safety of the victim and reduce the possibility of repeated abuse.
“At a time of crisis, we know that it’s sometimes difficult for victims to share their experience with police officers and open up about the abuse they have suffered. This can be due to heightened emotions, fear, embarrassment or shame, or sometimes because they don’t even recognise they are in an abusive relationship.
“The Crisis IDVAs offer both emotional and practical support and have been immensely successful in developing a rapport with victims, helping them to talk about their situation and the abuse they’ve suffered – which in turn helps us to build a better case, safeguard the victim and pursue the perpetrator.
”Domestic abuse can be physical or psychological and affects women, men and children, from all walks of life. It has no place in our society and shouldn’t be tolerated, which is why the Force has made it a priority. It is important that anyone suffering from domestic abuse knows the police are here to help them. We are actively working to keep people safe.”
The new posts are employed by VOICE for Victims and Witnesses – a free and confidential support service for victims and witnesses of crime in Northamptonshire. VOICE was successful in bidding for funding from the Ministry of Justice, which has enabled them to secure three Crisis IDVA posts until March 2023. The Crisis IDVAs support the police at peak demand times, which is weekends between 5pm and 2am.
Helen Cook, Senior Service Delivery Manager for VOICE said: “Domestic abuse is a serious issue and victims are often left traumatised and fearful. The Crisis IDVAs can build an effective bridge between the victim and the police. They are empathetic and good listeners who recognise the complexities of domestic violence and the risks to the individual and their family members. They also have significant knowledge of the support that’s available to help victims move forward.
“We know it can be hard for victims to talk about what’s happened to them, particularly to a police officer. They often feel isolated and alone. But these specialist advisors are skilled communicators. At a recent incident a victim disclosed to a Crisis IDVA, for the first time ever in their life, that they had been experiencing domestic abuse for more than 30 years.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe. This partnership approach with Northamptonshire Police means we can provide help at the earliest opportunity. Victims will be aware of the options open to them, can make informed decisions, and know that there is help and support available. Hopefully this joint work will help us to safeguard more individuals and help to prevent repeated abuse.”
Anyone suffering from domestic abuse is urged to call their local police on the non-emergency 101 or, in an emergency, always call 999.
To access a perpetrator programme, contact Respect – the national association for domestic violence perpetrator programmes and associated support services.
If you're a victim of domestic abuse, or know someone who is and there's an emergency that's ongoing or life is in danger, call 999 now. If you're deaf or hard of hearing, use our textphone service 18000 or text us on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS serviceExternal Link.
In non-emergency cases and for general advice, please call 101. If you're deaf or hard of hearing, use our textphone service on 18001 101.
You can also call the national 24-hour domestic abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247.