Healthcare professionals across Essex are to be given information by Crimestoppers to help them reach out to individuals who may have experienced domestic abuse.
Aimed at NHS dentists, pharmacy managers and opticians, the campaign highlights ways to talk to possible victims and advises the practitioner on how to signpost in the right direction to get help.
The new campaign, which is funded by the Percy Hoskins Trust*, has been developed by Crimestoppers in Essex in partnership with Medics Against Violence (MAV), whose mission is to reduce levels of violence and injury. It works on a four-step principle called AVDR** - Ask, Validate, Document and Report or Refer, and has been developed in conjunction with local NHS practitioner groups. It includes an instructional video, poster and information guide.
Chair of Crimestoppers in Essex, Stuart Rawlins, said: “Very often it is healthcare teams who, because they are on the front line of dealing with the public, will come across people who may have suffered abuse.
“One in four women and one in six men have experienced domestic abuse, but victims are often too afraid to speak out. We want to make it easier for health professionals to have confidence about how to handle a situation and, with the right tools and advice, we hope they may be able to make a difference.”
Speaking on behalf of all three*** Essex NHS Networks involved in the campaign, a spokesperson said: “As healthcare professionals, we are all acutely aware of the risks in relation to domestic abuse and the important role the profession can play. We welcome the initiative from Crimestoppers charity to both encourage us to be more vigilant, as well as signposting us to next steps when domestic violence is involved.”
Figures from Victim Support Essex, show that in the first seven months of 2017, 16% of all crime referrals to the charity were domestic abuse; 48% of all violence referrals were related to domestic abuse; and violence-related domestic abuse cases make up 75% of all domestic abuse referrals.
The emphasis of the campaign is to encourage patients to seek help and that health professionals should develop relationships with police domestic abuse officers and the appropriate aid agencies for expert advice.
Health professionals who remain concerned for any reason can report to Crimestoppers 100% anonymously, either via their 24-hour UK Contact Centre on 0800 555 111 or by using a non-traceable online form. Once a report is made, it will be passed to the appropriate police force or other agency. Calls and reports on crimes to Crimestoppers are not recorded and cannot be traced, no-one has to give their name, address or any personal details, they won’t have to give a statement or appear in court.
David Padgett, Contact Account Manager at Victim Support Essex said: “We want to ensure that anyone suffering from domestic violence has access to help that they deserve. The more people that are trained to spot signs of abuse and can signpost people to the organisations that can support them, the quicker we can provide the emotional and practical help that they need.”
Additional quotes from Essex Crimestoppers’ chair, Stuart Rawlins: “It is vital that every contact between a health professional - whether that’s a pharmacy manager, dentist or optician - and a patient who might be affected by domestic abuse, is seen as an opportunity to start a conversation.
“The most important thing is to ask, even that simple act can be enough to encourage them to take action to change their circumstances.”
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Jane Gardner, said: “Every day in Essex, victims suffer the misery of domestic violence and by working together we can help reach out to those at risk. The drive by Crimestoppers and healthcare practitioners to help equip professionals with the right tools to approach those who have suffered abuse is an innovative step in helping to break the cycle of domestic violence.”