An initiative which sees police officers responding to domestic abuse reports alongside a trained NHS specialist has supported over 1,000 victims.
Operation Provide was launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic – when the advice was to isolate and stay at home – with the aim of providing additional support to victims.
Reported by BBC News, it runs across Blackpool, Fylde, Wyre, Lancaster and Morecambe and sees independent domestic violence advocates (IDVAs) from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on hand to support victims and their children with immediate safety and long-term plans.
An independent evaluation by Liverpool John Moores University showed that the number of victims engaging with safeguarding advice has increased by 45.7 per cent – from 21.5 per cent to 67.2 per cent – as a result of the operation. The operation has also seen the number of victims engaging with prosecution increase by 26.9 per cent – from 14.4 per cent to 41.3 per cent.
Insp Jon Smith from Lancashire Constabulary said: “Domestic abuse is a largely hidden crime and victims are sometimes hesitant about speaking to the police and progressing criminal proceedings.
“Working in partnership with specialists from health, we are able to reach out to these victims, providing a substantial enhancement in the level of support available to vulnerable people in our communities.
Hazel Gregory, Head of Safeguarding at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Trust has worked with more than 1,000 victims, protecting them immediately after an incident and ensuring they have the support they need with our police colleagues and key partners.
“We will continue to work to transform the response to domestic abuse, to prevent further harm and reduce offending.”
Additional funding for the project from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Ministry of Justice, supported by Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, will allow the initiative to continue to run for another two years.
Dr Michelle McManus, Head of Criminal Justice at LJMU, said: “By capturing the victim’s voice at the crucial point of the domestic abuse incident, we found that victims do want to leave their abuser but were hesitant about police involvement.
“This shows the importance of the co-responder model in having a specialist health IDVA engaging with the victim and gaining their trust and confidence to be abuse free at the soonest opportunity to the abuse taking place.”
The initiative won the Patient Safety Improvement category at the Nursing Times Awards 2020 - the leading nursing awards in the country – with judges stating it was “creative, innovative and replicable”.
Please visit www.noexcuseforabuse.co.uk.