Victims of domestic abuse are being reminded that they are not alone during the coronavirus crisis.
Anyone suffering in silence behind closed doors or family, friends, neighbours or work colleagues with concerns about someone they know are being urged to take part in a live web chat this week.
On Wednesday 6 May at 4pm, Cheshire Constabulary – working together with agencies who provide domestic abuse support across the county – will be hosting an online question and answer session.
This will be the first of a series of virtual chats and safeguarding experts will work together to answer any questions on the force’s Facebook page.
Anyone wanting to take part has the option of submitting a question in advance by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, sending a private message to us during the session if they wish to remain anonymous, or simply posting a question to the Q&A post on the Cheshire Police Facebook page.
Detective Chief Superintendent Denise Worth said:
“Tackling domestic abuse is a priority for Cheshire Constabulary and I want to reassure everyone that we are still here responding to incidents and doing everything we can alongside other agencies to protect those most in need.
“I understand and appreciate the extremely difficult situation that many people may find themselves in given the strict social distancing measures that are in place.
“Victims who are at home during the lockdown – potentially with their abusers – may feel trapped and alone with nowhere to go and unsure of who to turn to for help.
“In this current situation it is vital that victims of domestic abuse know how and where to access support.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure that there are a number of channels of communication available to those who need it. Our message is simple – you are not alone – and this online session is one of many ways that you can seek help and advice during this difficult time.”
Police and partners in Cheshire are working together to provide multi-agency support to victims of domestic abuse as part of the ‘Open the Door’ campaign.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the issue whilst showing people how to recognise the signs of domestic abuse, know what to do and have the confidence to take action.
Relatives, friends, neighbours and work colleagues also have an important part to play and anyone concerned that someone they know may be suffering is encouraged to come forward and report it.
Det Chief Supt Worth added:
“Across the county a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to tackle the issue of domestic abuse. Our officers are being proactive, visiting known offenders and those potentially at risk, carrying out checks, targeting those who are wanted for domestic abuse offences and ensuring that Domestic Violence Protection Notices and Orders are being adhered to.
“However, despite a concerted effort by police and partners to tackle the issue and provide vital support to victims, there is a concern that those at risk may be suffering behind closed doors and we are concerned that people may be suffering in silence.
“I understand that not everyone who is a victim will feel comfortable coming forward and reporting what is happening to them and I am encouraging other people – family members, friends, neighbours or work colleagues – to come forward and speak out on their behalf – by doing so you could make a real difference.
“Don’t ignore your intuition – if you think something isn’t right, do something about it.”
There are many ways to report concerns and seek help – even during the current lockdown.
Earlier this month the ‘Alone at Last’ poster campaign was launched across Cheshire, with posters in supermarkets and pharmacies highlighting the support available for domestic abuse victims and where to find it – providing an opportunity to say something or call someone, in a safe place at a safe time.
A number of helpdesks at police stations are also open across the county for one hour a day for residents who have no other means of reporting crime during the lockdown. This service is for urgent issues where there is no other way of contacting police – again providing people with an opportunity to speak out in a safe place.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane added:
“The Chief Constable and I highlighted the potential increased risk of domestic abuse during the lockdown and that our resources need to be focused on not just tackling the perpetrators, but supporting the victims too. I am very pleased that the Chief Constable has prioritised resources to help tackle this problem and that my office has worked hard to ensure that victim’s services have been supported to adapt to the lockdown, and are continuing to offer an excellent service to anyone in need of support.
“The ‘Alone at Last’ campaign has strongly resonated with our communities, but all agencies and communities need to ensure that we continue to work together and push the message that domestic abuse will not be tolerated and we will go out of our way to help and support those in most need.”
If you are in immediate danger and dial 999 for help – you can press ‘55’ during the call to let the operator know you are in danger if it is not safe to speak – this is known as ‘The Silent Solution’.
The ‘My Support Space’ app is also available for those in need – it is a domestic violence platform, which has been launched to give victims of crime affected by the coronavirus outbreak additional ways in which to access support, including from their own home, via a computer, tablet or phone.
You can open the door to support by calling the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
Or contact your local domestic abuse support service below:
Cheshire East Domestic Abuse Hub – 0300 123 5101
Cheshire West and Chester – 0300 123 7047, option 2
Halton Domestic Abuse Forum – 0300 111 1247
Warrington Refuge – 01925 243359
There are many ways you can get in touch with Cheshire Constabulary to report any concerns and to seek help – in an emergency dial 999 (if a crime is taking place or there is an immediate threat to life), 101 if it is not urgent or visit our website https://www.cheshire.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/