Sussex Police maintain focus on domestic abuse
Sussex Police have introduced new initiatives to encourage the reporting of domestic abuse and support victims, an issue which remains a priority for the force at this crucial time.
A new specialist unit, the Local Resolution Team, can deal by appointment with any cases that are not immediately urgent, including a new video appointment service when conversations can’t take place face to face.
The 30-strong team of specially trained officers are dedicated to dealing with reports of domestic abuse which are not immediately urgent. They discuss the incident with the caller, carry out an initial investigation and provide safeguarding advice, to leave the victim feeling safer than before and to explore available investigative opportunities to prosecute those responsible for domestic abuse.
Detective Superintendent Steve Rayland of the force's Public Protection Command said; "Our preference is to see someone face to face in private at a police station. However, we recognise that current restrictions such as vulnerable categories, self-isolation, or travel, will not be able to attend so the force has new video conferencing technology.
"The officers obtain a safe contact number and send a one time text message to the caller's smartphone. Activating this link puts the caller in to a virtual waiting room where one of our officers will be able to see and talk to them so that an investigation can take place."
Part of the safeguarding advice includes referrals to independent support agencies such as Rise and Worth Services.
Afterwards, the caller is told to delete the text, which is disguised in the first place to hide any links with the police.
New dedicated ‘Domestic Abuse’ cars across Sussex are also responding to reports where there is not an immediate threat, in addition to emergency response officers who always respond immediately to high risk incidents.These additional mobile resources are equipped with body worn video and respond in marked cars to reports of domestic abuse, with time to listen and deal thoroughly with the allegations.
The force is also carrying out domestic abuse awareness publicity at local supermarkets, with high profile signage at entrances and take-away information, complementing an online campaign. Even though our social media pages are already reaching out those affected by domestic abuse, we recognise that not everyone has access to the Internet, and some may have their access controlled.
So police officers and PCSOs are visiting supermarkets to raise awareness of domestic abuse and let people know that despite what is going on right now the police are still here, will still respond if you need help, and will arrest and prosecute. Lockdown hasn’t changed our focus on domestic abuse, it is still a priority and if you are suffering from domestic abuse we urge you to call us or speak to an officer.
Steve Rayland said; "We are adapting to ensure we can support people at risk and find them a safe space.
"It’s really important people know that alongside these new initiatives we continue to respond to domestic abuse as normal, arresting perpetrators and protecting vulnerable people.
"No matter what is going on around us there is no excuse for domestic abuse it simple isn’t acceptable. The police priority hasn’t changed if you are victim of domestic abuse I would urge you to make contact with us so that we can help."
Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner said; “We may be in lockdown but we must not feel locked out. It’s now more important than ever that people who feel threatened and vulnerable have someone they can reach out to, who will listen and help them.
“I’m pleased that, following the extra investment into Sussex Police this year, we are able to put in place these innovative measures to safeguard victims at a time when it can be incredibly difficult for them to safely reach out for help.
“We are all going the extra mile during this crisis to ensure that people do not feel they have to suffer in silence.”
If you're a victim of domestic abuse, or know someone who is, and there's an emergency that's ongoing or life is in danger, call police on 999.
If you can’t talk because the perpetrator is nearby, you can then press the numbers ‘55’ into your mobile phone which will alert the operator to your situation.
The Sussex Safe Space website also provides a valuable directory of help and support from all agencies, available near you.