Hospital lifeline to hidden victims of domestic violence

Domestic abuse

A groundbreaking new initiative that will see domestic abuse specialists based in hospital Accident and Emergency departments has been launched by Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

The scheme will see victims of domestic violence turning up at hospital being offered support and help much earlier than has previously been possible.

For the first time in the UK, Victim Support workers will work alongside emergency staff to train staff to help identify victims and make the process of referring them to support services much simpler.

There are thousands of victims of domestic abuse suffering in silence and this initiative will help them access the right support and stop the cycle of abuse.

Following a successful pilot at Fairfield Hospital in Bury, the initiative is now being extended to Rochdale, Oldham, Bolton and Tameside hospitals, thanks to funding from Tony Lloyd. A team of five domestic abuse workers will work with hospital A&E staff, who will also have access to a 24-hour phone line to refer patients direct to Victim Support.

The project will be extended to North Manchester Hospital in the next few months and it’s hoped it will be rolled out to the rest of Greater Manchester.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said:

“I’ve met and listened to victims of domestic violence and this is exactly the sort of service they’ve been crying out for.

“We know there are thousands of victims suffering at the hands of someone who is supposed to love and care for them, with no one to turn to, afraid and not aware of how to get help. This initiative is a lifeline for these hidden victims, empowering them to access support services much earlier. Early intervention will also help break the cycle of abuse helping prevent children who may witness domestic abuse becoming the next generation of victims and perpetrators.

“This is partnership working in action and is what I want to develop across the wider criminal justice system. It’s common sense and puts the victim at the very centre of what we’re doing, providing a better service that meets their needs.” 

Victim Support’s Ruth Wilson, who is managing the project, added:

“This is a really exciting project and means we can provide a better service to victims of domestic abuse, giving them help and support much earlier to rebuild their lives.”

Assistant Chief Constable, Dawn Copley, who is responsible for Greater Manchester Police’s Public Protection Division said:

“We all have a role to play in helping to combat domestic abuse and safeguarding young people and vulnerable adults. We welcome this project as it offers another opportunity for providing early intervention and support to victims. We know that incidents of abuse can escalate and lead to victims suffering serious injuries. Early intervention is key and can potentially save lives.

“We take all cases of abuse, whether it be mental or physical, extremely seriously and have teams of specially trained officers who have chosen to work in this area because they really do care. We would encourage anyone suffering from it, or know of someone who is, to seek help or report it to the police.”

Ann Christopher, Named Nurse Safeguarding Adults at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said:

“This scheme will be of great benefit to people who present at our emergency care services in Rochdale, Bury and Oldham who may be suffering domestic abuse. Research tells us that lots of people who suffer domestic abuse want someone to ask them about it and offer help.”

If you, or someone you know, has suffered domestic violence, help is available. Visit endthefear.co.uk for more information or call Greater Manchester’s domestic violence helpline on 0161 636 7525.

If there is an immediate risk of harm to someone, or it is an emergency, dial 999.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, or Clare’s Law, can be used by anyone concerned over a partner’s abusive behaviour or those concerned about a friend or family member in a relationship and at risk of violence by their partner. For further information or to make a request for information under it, contact Greater Manchester Police on 101 or visit a police station.

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