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Devon & Cornwall Police backs campaign to tackle domestic abuse as figures show rise

The Force is supporting a campaign calling on employers across the South West to do more to combat domestic abuse.

As part of the international 16 days of action movement, Public Health England South West is urging employers across the region to play their part in tackling domestic and sexual abuse and violence.

The launch today (25 November)- which coincides with the White Ribbon Day international campaign for elimination of violence against women - comes as new figures showing the number of domestic abuse related offences recorded by police forces are released by the Office for National Statistics.

Devon & Cornwall Police saw a 3.6 per cent rise for the year ending March 2020, compared to 2018/19 – lower than the England and Wales increase of 8.5 per cent.

Assistant Chief Constable Jim Colwell said the increase reflected efforts by the force and partners to encourage people to report incidents and urged businesses to play their part in tackling the issue.

He added: “Preventing and investigating domestic abuse remains a big priority and we are working hard to encourage victims or people who suspect abuse is happening to speak up. Working together with our partners we will help and support anyone needing to break free from an abusive relationship. 

“Taking positive action is at the heart of our response which includes transparently recording all incidents, accurately identifying risk and allocating specialist resources to investigate and safeguard victims and families. 

“For all our successes there are still a those that are fearful of coming forwards or don’t believe that their situation is important enough to be taken seriously. The harm, physical or psychological, caused to those affected by domestic abuse should not be underestimated and we take every report seriously. 

“That’s why Devon & Cornwall police are joining the 16 Days of Action against Domestic Abuse starting today 25 November. 

“Alongside Public Health England South West, we are calling on employers across the region to play their part in tackling domestic and sexual abuse and violence.

 “As an employer, Devon & Cornwall Police have introduced a new system to encourage our staff and officers to feel confident to come forward and report domestic abuse. This includes marking incident logs as confidential and ensuring allegations are investigated by separate command units to support staff with any concern or fear of embarrassment.

“We need a collective effort to break the cycle and I would urge all employers to look at the useful toolkit and find ways to make reporting easier.”

Public Health England (PHE) has identified domestic abuse as a hugely destructive problem and believes employers have an important role to play in society’s response. 

The problem is even more acute due to the pandemic, with home working denying many victims access to workplaces, which can often be the only refuge and a place where signs of abuse may be spotted.

Figures from the National Domestic Abuse helpline run by the charity Refuge reported more than 40,000 calls were made during the first three months of lockdown.

Tracy Daszkiewicz, Deputy Director of Population Health & Wellbeing for Public Health England South West, said: “Domestic abuse is devastating and the consequences long lasting, it needs a collective effort to break the cycle. 

“Fear of stigma and isolation stops people who experience domestic abuse from seeking help. As we all continue to work from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, it may be even more difficult for victims of domestic abuse to come forward.

“This toolkit supports employers to help keep staff safe from abuse at work and offers advice on how they can create a working environment that makes it easy for people to take the first step and to talk about their experience.”

“We urge all employers to share information with staff on the actions they can take to protect themselves and their colleagues from harm.”

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “An important part of my work is commissioning vital services for those who have suffered domestic abuse.  The 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Abuse is another way to highlight how seriously we take this crime. 

"Domestic abuse has not relented during Covid and we must do everything we can to stop it.

“This month we headed up a successful bid for £417,395 from Central Government and £215,959 in match funding for a programme to work with the perpetrators of domestic abuse.

“Intervening early and working with perpetrators and their families is crucial to helping them identify why they act in this manner and what changes they can make to alter their behaviour.

“This programme will also help members of the public and local communities to spot the signs of abusive or controlling behaviour and build the trusted relationships needed to intervene.”

Alongside local partners, Devon & Cornwall Police will be raising awareness around domestic abuse, - types of abuse and how it happens – as well as providing signposting to help and advice and encouraging people to report incidents.

For support and advice, including how to contact support agencies, please visit the police website

To support the 16 Days of Action campaign visit the website and to download the PHE toolkit visit the website 
 
To see the latest crime statistics for domestic abuse, go to the ONS website


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