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.
It continues to run 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.
Insp Jon Smith from Lancashire Constabulary said: “Domestic abuse is a largely hidden crime, occurring primarily at home. For a wide variety of reasons, 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.
“We are here to help if victims need support. I would urge friends, family and neighbours to let us know if you think someone might be suffering. Please don’t ignore it.”
There are a total of six health IDVAs dedicated to the operation.
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.
Andrew Snowden, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, added: “Working together with key partners is vital as we look to support victims of domestic abuse and ensure they receive the right support.
“As Commissioner I am committed to getting tough on crime, including abuse in all its forms and will work with the Constabulary to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice and we keep people safe.
“By combining a clear support for victims, with work around early intervention and also crucially a clear message that if you are committing abuse, officers will be knocking on your door, we can make a real difference and prevent people from becoming victims in the first place.”
An independent evaluation on the project 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.
Dr Michelle McManus from Liverpool John Moores University 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”.
You can report domestic abuse online at lancashire.police.uk/reportcrime or by calling 101. If someone is at risk of immediate harm, dial 999.
If you are unable to speak on the phone, you can ring 999 from a landline and respond by coughing or tapping the handset, pressing ‘55’ when prompted by the operator. This lets the 999 call operator know that it’s an emergency and you aren’t safe to speak.
For more information and details of the help and support agencies available in Lancashire please visit www.noexcuseforabuse.co.uk.