Merseyside Police urges victims of domestic abuse not to suffer in silence during lockdown

Merseyside Police urges victims of domestic abuse not to suffer in silence during lockdown

Sadly in the last two weeks three families are struggling to come to terms with the loss of family members as a result of domestic abuse in our region.

The three women ranged in age from 20, to 54 to 77, and the incidents happened in Liverpool, Southport and Heswall respectively, this goes to show that domestic abuse is not unique to any age group, or demographic, and we never know who may be suffering behind their own front door and closed curtains.

The number of domestic abuse crimes have increased year on year since 2016, with further significant increases in the past year. Between the 1 April 2020 and 30 November 2020 we saw an increase in reports of domestic abuse of 10.4 per cent compared to the same period the previous year. That equates to 18,782 victims for the period between 1 April 2020 and 30 November 2020, but we know that this crime is under-reported and there are probably more victims who are suffering in silence.

ACC Ian Critchley, said: “My thoughts are with the three women who have tragically lost their lives as a result of domestic violence and I know that nothing I say will heal the pain their families are suffering. But I hope that by speaking out today that if there any victims of domestic abuse who need help that they will come forward and let us know.

“This year particularly has been challenging for everyone, but for victims of domestic abuse who are suffering from continued cruelty and violence it must be intolerable. For abusers it is easier for them to coerce or physically abuse their victims, who are probably feeling more isolated and alone than they would under normal circumstances. And I can’t stress enough that if home is not a safe place for you then we want you to know that you are not alone and you do not have to stay at home if it is not safe to be there.

“We want you to know that we are here to help, so please talk to us. If you are in immediate danger, always call 999. If you ring 999 and are not in a safe position to speak to us then cough, or tap, the phone and press 55, when prompted. This will alert the operator that you need assistance and we will provide support.

“Alternatively there is a new scheme to help victims called “Ask for Ani” which gives victims an opportunity to reach out for help at pharmacies, including Boots, without making their situation obvious to other members of the public, or alerting their abuser. Victims who ask for Ani at pharmacy counters will be taken by a staff member to a private space where they can be put in touch with the police, support services and helplines.

“The force also continues to use domestic violence prevention notices and the relevant disclosures as part of the ‘right to know ‘ and ‘ right to ask ‘ scheme as a means to prevent domestic violence and domestic abuse.

ACC Critchley, added: “I want to appeal to family, friends and neighbours who strongly suspect that someone is being subjected to domestic abuse to tell us, or to urge their loved ones to make the right decision for their own safety and peace of mind.
“Domestic abuse is a complex issue and can take many forms including psychological, financial, sexual, emotional and physical. Alcohol and drugs are never the root cause of domestic abuse, nor can they ever be used to justify it.

“Every domestic incident is unique and the background to each one can be very complex, it is not just people who are married/in a relationship, domestic abuse can be a child on a parent and vice versa and we don’t deal solely with female victims. As a result we use the right specialist resources whenever we can so that the victims of this abhorrent and under-reported crime are protected and their needs are put first.

“Protecting our most vulnerable communities is one of the force’s priorities and we realise that being able to support and advise victims of domestic abuse has never been more important that it is now.

“I want people to feel reassured that our work remains firmly focussed on investigating crimes, protecting and supporting victims and bringing offenders to justice.

ACC Critchley, who also chairs the Strategic Domestic Abuse Group for the region continued: “The three needless and tragic deaths that have occurred in our region bring into stark focus what many victims suffer from every single day. Each of these deaths will be subject to a Domestic Homicide Review.

“Sometimes no matter what we put in place, we cannot unfortunately prevent all homicides. But that won’t take away our desire and commitment to prevent as much domestic violence as is humanly possible, whilst continuing to encourage anyone who has suffered to be confident of what we have in place and how we will support victims and their families with our whole partnership response. The region has received increased funding during the Covid pandemic to tackle domestic abuse, but we know there are more victims who need our help and support.

“I am extremely grateful for the continued work of all our frontline professionals and support agencies who have worked tirelessly to support victims during the last 10 months of the Covid pandemic. We moved to weekly meetings with our strategic partners to ensure our front line response wasn’t effected. We continue to review demand for services, such as refuge provision in light of increases in crimes reported, and we also manage the impact on the judicial system on victims, witnesses and our ability to continue to bring offenders to justice and use criminal and civil orders as part of our safeguarding response.

“Crime Prevention leaflets have been sent to more than 25,000 homes and businesses across Merseyside to provide national and local support services for victims of domestic abuse, and to highlight that support from the police and independent domestic abuse support services are still available during lockdown. The leaflets also highlighted the 999 system with the use of the double 5 digit silent call, . If you ring 999 and are not in a safe position to speak to us then cough, or tap, the phone and press 55, when prompted. If you ring 999 and are not in a safe position to speak to us then cough, or tap, the phone and press 55, when prompted. This will alert the operator that you need assistance and we will provide support.

“At Merseyside Police and across the whole partnership we are blessed to have passionate and dedicated colleagues working hard every day to help protect victims. That makes it more distressing when we see the tragic and needless loss of life and the impact on families left behind, but it also renews our commitment to make continued improvements and help those suffering – we need everyone in our communities to help us rid society of this scourge of domestic abuse that effects so many victims and their families.”

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Notes to Editors:
Police also work closely with IDVAs, and other approved/recognised agencies, to ensure victims remain supported if the case goes to court.
The Independent Domestic Violence Advisory Service provides independent and impartial support for all high risk victims/survivors of domestic violence. All staff are trained to CAADA standard to deliver specialist support. The IDVAs work in partnership with other agencies to ensure maximum service delivery to the victim/survivor with the aim of increasing the safety of the individual co-ordinating a multi-agency approach including:
•Risk Assessment
•Safety Planning
•Crisis Intervention
•Applications for target hardening
•Practical and emotional support
•Court support
•Multi agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) representation
•The key outcome is to increase the safety of survivors of domestic violence; and their children.
•They can assist with issues arising as a result of domestic violence, such as support through the court process and advocacy with housing issues.
•IDVAs are independent from all agencies to ensure the best possible support and advice is offered to each survivor.
•All clients are treated with respect, dignity and sensitivity. We respect the diversity of the community and work to ensure all survivors have access to the services they need.
• IDVA do not take self-referrals and clients must be referred though the MARAC referral route with a completed multi agency risk assessment (Merit) and IDVA referral form.
• If your case is referred to a MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference an IDVA worker will be able to represent you.
If you have any non-urgent information on domestic abuse – if you are a victim or believe someone you know is a victim – you can contact direct message @MerPolCC on Twitter, ‘Merseyside Police Contact Centre’ on Facebook or contact @CrimestoppersUK, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Further support can also be found at these national agencies:
Women’s Aid | | 0808 200 0247 (24 hours)
Refuge (includes information for men) | | 0808 200 0247 (24 hours)
National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 200 0247(24 hours)

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