Early intervention with victims of Domestic Abuse: enhanced support during weekends.
By Samantha Midgley, Criminal Justice Liaison Officer, Whole System Approach to Domestic Abuse
The DA Support Car began in January 2018. It is an innovative, bespoke service involving a Domestic Abuse (DA) Support Worker from Harbour, Eva or Foundation specialist DA services, and a plain clothed Police Officer.
The Support Car acts as a second response to Domestic Abuse incidents, providing support, advice and guidance to victims/ survivors, after the initial response car has visited (following a call for service – 999 or 101 call). The car operates every Saturday and Sunday, from 14:00-22:00 hours; this is the peak demand time for victims or third parties making calls for service to the police following a domestic abuse incident.
Between January 2018 and October 2018 the Domestic Abuse Support car has engaged with 453 victims via phone call or visit. 177 of these victims were referred onto Domestic Abuse Support Services; some were receiving support already.
These schemes appear to have a very positive response from our victims: some victims have described the support car as a “wonderful service” advising that it “felt good to have someone on their side”.
Our staff have been highlighted as “fantastic” and the collaboration of a Police Officer and Support Worker appears to be invaluable to victims; it has been noted how people felt it was easier to speak to a support worker and an officer out of uniform, creating a safe space for victims to disclose.
Recently, we have placed a Domestic Abuse Support Worker into the Force Control Room. The role operates on a Saturday and Sunday 14:00 – 21:30 hours, and utilises the expertise of Domestic Abuse Support Workers from Harbour Support Services.
Their role is to review live Domestic Incidents, as calls for service come into the Control Room. They then make contact with the victim where appropriate, and offer expert safeguarding, support, advice and guidance. They are skilled at victim engagement, and this is helpful for the police staff and officers they are co-located with.
Their role is crucial in maintaining contact with victims during the period between a complaint being made and a visit by the Police being conducted. In some cases, this has led to immediate safeguarding and early intervention work being carried out. In one instance, a support worker talked to an assault victim and was able to build a rapport with them, which helped them to determine that the victim needed a quicker response than what the initial call details had presented.
In another case, a victim and children were safely relocated to a refuge following the early intervention of the control room support worker.
Since 30th September 2018, the control room support worker has successfully engaged with 125 victims of Domestic Abuse and referred 49 of these onto Support Services for on-going support.
Again some victims were already receiving support, and some, for their own reasons, chose not to be referred to support services. The important thing is that they know that someone was willing to listen and offer help.
The key priorities of the domestic abuse support car and control room support worker are:
- early intervention: we offer a way to ensure the immediate safety and wellbeing of victims and children
- developing good partnership working: through joint working between Cleveland Police and specialist Domestic Abuse professionals, we can provide a high-quality Police response to our most vulnerable people, and agencies are able to share knowledge and practice, and jointly problem solve.
- achieving positive outcomes for victims: we are helping to increase victim confidence in the Policing response and open up pathways to on-going support and justice.
- a sustainable approach: our goal is to reduce the amount of victim, and certainly to reduce the amount of repeat victims.
We know that by doing this, we will both give victims a good and comprehensive service when they call us, and by doing our best to help them during an incident, and that by dealing with the problem properly, and all their needs effectively, we will eventually decrease the repeat demand on the force, keeping victims safe, and freeing up officers to attend to the other demands of modern policing.
Posted on Friday 30th November 2018