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Friends and family members are being urged to make domestic abuse everyone’s business in a new campaign designed to set out how they can help those at risk.

A series of posters and leaflets aim to dispel a range excuses and myths around the causes of domestic abuse, such as blaming it on the stress or increased alcohol consumption.

The poster then goes onto encourage people not to make excuses for abuse, but instead take action by following a series of safe steps. Advice ranges from making suggestions to the victim, not demands, and sharing support information, if safe to do so.

The campaign comes after a survey of specialist Violence Against Women and Girls service providers revealed widespread concern over the impact of the pandemic.

Across the region, help groups said they are braced for a big demand on services, both during the different phases of the lockdown and in the recovery phase.

While some services reported an immediate increase in demand, many noticed a fall in calls and pleas for help as people trapped at home with their abuser struggled to reach out.

As well as the increased risk of violence and coercive control, service providers have also warned of increased demand around welfare issues, with access to food and food banks and fear of poverty and economic hardship a constant pressure.

Many charities and community groups have told the Police Commissioner that they are particularly concerned that during the first period of the pandemic lockdown they experienced a “calm before the storm” as many of those suffering try to weather the current crisis either unable to seek help or too afraid to leave their homes.

Now, the new campaign is setting out how friends and family of those suffering domestic abuse can support loved ones and help them escape the abuse.

New posters and leaflets are setting out starkly that there is no excuse for abuse, and make clear that “domestic abuse is everyone’s business”.

The campaign provides advice and contact information that can be passed on to those at risk by concerned friends and colleagues.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “This campaign is the result of lots of discussions about our local response to the domestic abuse emergency which took hold at the start of the pandemic. We all wanted a campaign to speak directly to the neighbour who can hear the intimidating voice hurling abuse on the other side of the fence, or the mother worried why her daughter’s stopped texting or messaging on the family thread. It’s these people who have suspicions and concerns that we are reaching out to. If you have a feeling that something isn’t right, the chances are it isn’t.”

She continued: “With this campaign we’re saying ‘look, you can support the person you are worried about and here’s how’. There is no excuse to abuse another person, none whatsoever, so anyone who thinks that might be happening behind closed doors, needs to do their bit to help – it could make a huge difference to someone’s life.”

Becky Rogerson MBE, Director at Wearside Women in Need, said: “We know that many people suffering abuse make that first disclosure to a close family member, a good friend, a work colleague or a trusted neighbour. We want to ensure that those trusted with that sensitive information know what to do about it, how to help, and how to make a difference. Don’t wait until something tragic happens, early intervention is key as domestic abuse escalates over time. Lets make the ‘new normal’ abuse free.”

The VAWG survey, produced by WWIN outlines many of the ways in which the pandemic reinforces inequality and increases the incidence and impact on victims. The report notes that we are in a rapidly developing situation and the impacts on survivors and services are changing day by day.

The biggest challenge right now is ensuring that victims are provided with information, support and messaging that helps keep them socially connected and able to access help when they can. It is hoped that this Northumbria wide campaign will strike resonance with communities and lead to an increase take up of services.

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A major recruitment drive to get hundreds of new police officers on our streets by the end of 2020 is fully on track says Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness.

Despite challenges due to the Coronavirus pandemic, an emergency response plan unveiled by the Police Commissioner last week outlined how ongoing recruitment to the frontline will be crucial for meeting policing priorities during the outbreak and beyond.

The latest Northumbria Police recruitment campaign has had 1625 people register their interest so far. The force has been taking steps to ensure a wider range of applicants, with around 36 per cent of job enquiries coming from women, for example, and targeted recruitment adverts to ensure more BAME applicants.

Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness has welcomed the recruitment plans as a great opportunity to ensure Northumbria Police continues to reflect the communities it serves.

Northumbria Police currently has 254 officers in training and 78 of them began their degree in professional policing practice during the lockdown.

For the last financial year (2019/20) 84 new officers started as part of the national uplift and the Commissioner, along with Chief Constable Winton Keenen decided to invest further in our police force and chose to boost this number with an additional 205.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “I’m heartened by the number of people applying to take on this role during such strange, challenging times. We have 140 new recruits joining us next month. These are people who want to help make a difference during a crisis are exactly the people we want serving, out and about in our communities.

“Our force has lost more than 1100 officers in the last decade as a direct result of Government cuts. We set out a plan to undo this damage and we are on track to do so. Of course, recruitment events have had to be digitalised, courses adapted and so on, but recruitment has had to go on. It’s crucial we re-fill the gaps.”

The Commissioner, added: “In times like these we need our police more than ever. Our recovery plan is about getting our police back to a normal footing as soon as possible, allowing us to deal with the aftermath of the virus and progress longer term aims of improving public safety.

“To anyone looking for a new career, this could be your time to consider joining the police family. If so, we want to hear from you and how your skills and background could help serve our communities – improving lives and preventing crime.”

The PCC has set out a plan for policing during the lockdown and the crucial changes that will need to happen as the region looks to recovery. The Coronavirus Response Plan can be found here.

Northumbria Police has a whole range of career and volunteer opportunities. For more information visit the Northumbria Police LinkedIn page or go to the careers website.

 

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LOCAL voluntary sector services who support domestic abuse and sexual violence victims are being urged to apply for a second round of emergency funding to help them continue supporting victims through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, has announced that extra money is being made available to support organisations to help them cope with increased demand and ongoing financial pressures.

Almost £500,00 has been allocated by the Ministry of Justice to PCC McGuinness who, within a fortnight, will distribute it to charities and support organisations helping those most in need. The deadline for applications is June 2nd, 2020.

The funding can only be used by organisations providing direct support to domestic abuse and sexual violence victims, and is to cover additional costs incurred as a direct result of the outbreak.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “The struggle and fear for those trapped at home with their abuser is very real. We know this pandemic is making it difficult for some to access support and is creating difficulties for those providing it too. That’s why we have to act fast and get the money out there. I’m conscious the deadline is tight and the process of applying for funding can put additional strain on services that are already stretched, so if anything is unclear don’t hesitate to get in touch with my office and we will help you as best we can.

“Whether you’re a small or large organisation and whatever support you’re providing – safe spaces, helplines, web chats – it’s all such important work right now to ensure victims don’t feel alone and that they can escape from the abuse.”

She added: “We absolutely have to prioritise those at risk of this horrible abuse and violence, but we can’t just draw the line there, there are many other victims who are getting caught up in this this health crisis who can’t get forgotten too. There are young people who are still being criminally exploited, old people being subjected to scams – we need to ensure specialist support reaches other vulnerable victims of crime and I will keep calling on the Government to help fund support in other areas too.”

For full details of the funding criteria and how to apply visit: http://www.northumbria-pcc.gov.uk/police-crime-plan/commissioning-services-grants/11591-2/

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Reoffending rates amongst vulnerable young people across Northumbria are falling after funding from the PCC launched the Out of Court Disposal programme – a new way of diverting young people away from a life crime, and instead given high quality mentoring and support.

Despite only running for 6 months, the initial impact is clear – in North Tyneside alone, only 1 of the 37 participants engaged through this programme has went on to become an entrant into the Criminal Justice System. Taking an individual and values based approach is key to the long term success of this project, and one the PCC is keen to encourage.

Kim said: “Through this new way of dealing with offending, and understanding what has happened in that young person’s life that may have led to this, bespoke individual support can be provided by a range of professionals. It is the exact sort of work that will lead to improving lives to prevent crime.”

The project, which encourages the use of the Out of Court Disposals, allows the Youth Justice Services to work with the individuals involved to build a programme of mentoring and support alongside services including; health, education, employment and other third sector organisations.

Northumberland Youth Justice Service, which has seen a 44% reduction in violence against the person offences (Jan – Mar 2018/19 vs 2019/20), has praised the collaborative approach and committed to this way of supporting young people past the funded period.

Cllr Wayne Daley, Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Children’s Services at Northumberland County Council said: “Northumberland Youth Justice Service has always been passionate about making a difference to the lives of young people, their families and their communities.  This commitment to making a difference informed a new collaborative approach, with Northumberland YJS being a key driver in the development and introduction of the new Out Of Court Disposal Panel right across the Northumbria Police Force area.

 “The new initiative enables the Youth Justice Services to support young people at the earliest opportunity with a swift response to identified problems and has proven to be very successful in reducing further offending, whilst providing support and direction to the young people and their families.”

 By understanding what adversity in this young person’s life may have led to this event, the PCC aims to ensure reoffending continues to decrease, along with the number of young people entering the Criminal Justice system for the first time.

Kim said: “By understanding past circumstances and providing tailored support around that, we hope we can have a long term impact on these young people. The work being delivered will only be a success if it prevents these individuals from falling back into crime and offending once their direct support concludes.”

“This approach will not only benefit those involved, but the families of those individuals, the communities in which they live, and also the operational demands on the force. By supporting those who can quickly become repeat offenders at the first opportunity, the burden on the force to deal with these individuals repeatedly over time is removed.”

Since the Out of Court Disposal option commenced, North Tyneside Youth Justice Service have recorded a 63% reduction in first time entrants, clear signs that the approach is working and supporting those involved. Inspector Rob Bosson, who has played a key role in developing this approach in Northumbria, praised the work and highlighted the wider impact on communities and operational demands of the force.

Inspector Bosson said: “The development of this approach highlights the commitment of Northumbria Police and our partners to deliver meaningful interventions which change mindsets and support young people.

“We know from past experience that criminalisation of young people adds to the prospect of further criminality.

“With intervention and diversion work, we have a chance to change that person’s outlook to prevent reoffending and entry into the criminal justice system.

“The Youth Justice Services in the area have been instrumental in the delivery of this project and our strong partnership working is making a real difference to people’s lives.

“This approach is already leading to better outcomes for young people and in the long-term will hopefully see a reduction in demand across all services – all of which will ultimately benefit the communities we serve and are proud to be a part of.”

Given the success and impact of the results during the funded period, the Youth Justice Services have committed to continuing to use the Out of Court Disposal option where appropriate, and work with the PCC and Northumbria Police to reduce reoffending and first time entry.

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Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has set out her plans for policing during the lockdown and the crucial changes that will need to happen as the region looks to recovery.

From monitoring fines issued by frontline officers to preparing plans for any post-lockdown crime spikes, the document sets out how the police commissioner holds Northumbria Police to account on behalf of the public.

The PCC has set out how she wants to support police officers and staff during the outbreak and ensure the force is equipped for the ‘new normal’ as attention shifts to the recovery phase of the pandemic.

This includes monitoring the force’s workforce resilience as well as ensuring the police are ready for the changing nature of crime both during and after the outbreak.

A new Coronavirus Response Document published by the police commissioner sets out the changing way the force’s performance will be measured, and how the commissioner will work with the chief constable to ensure public safety.

It includes:

  • Regular reporting from the force to the commissioner on the number of enforcement notices issued and assurance of standards and legitimacy around these.
  • Ensuring plans are in place to support people trapped at home with a violent partner during the lockdown.
  • A renewed focus supporting the local services that help turn young adults away from a life of violent crime as a vital part of the region’s recovery planning.
  • Co-ordinating the work of the police and local justice system to ensure there are plans in place for any post-lockdown rise in crime.
  • Ensuring the force continues with plans to recruit hundreds of new and replacement police officers and staff.

The Commissioner has made clear that while the immediate priority is on reducing the spread of the outbreak, the weeks ahead will need to see a new focus on recovery, and has started working with others on plans for this.

While crime rates have fallen drastically overall during the stay at home period, these rates may well increase in the coming months. Plans for this, the Commissioner said, must reflect the potential impact of any long term unemployment in the north east as it faces up to an uncertain economic outlook.

Kim McGuinness said: “Our region has been through a lot in this pandemic, and we are far from over the worst of it. Your police force is working hard to keep us all safe and to sensibly enforce the social distancing rules.

“But we know that the challenges our region face are about more than just how many people are in the park. The long term effects of the outbreak risk deep economic harm, and it is vital our region’s recovery plans consider all the implications of this. We’ve seen recessions and crime go hand in hand before, and I’m committed to working with the chief constable to ensuring our policing plans are flexible and ready to respond to the changing face of this emergency.

“That means continuing to invest in the crime prevention services that keep our neighbourhoods strong, especially the youth and community centres that will play a vital role in the recovery phase.”

Throughout the outbreak the Commissioner has headed calls for Government to provide testing and personal protective equipment to police officers and staff. Lobbying to secure sufficient PPE continues, alongside weekly discussions with Government ministers on the latest Coronavirus issues.

To see the plan in full visit: www.northumbria-pcc.gov.uk/police-crime-plan/coronavirus-response-plan/

 

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Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness is preparing an emergency funding package to help children at risk of domestic abuse during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Across the region charities and support groups have urged people to get in touch if they are experiencing domestic abuse while isolating with their family.

But a particular concern now is for children who might not be able to access support while schools are closed own.

Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness is now providing specialist funding to help groups adapt to new ways of reaching young people at risk – with new grants available to help reach children via emails and social media.

More than £120,000 is being set aside for specialist organisations in order to ensure children do not become the forgotten victims of domestic abuse during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Kim said: “Our message to people at risk of domestic abuse is clear; we are there for you even in these difficult times.

“Despite this we have also seen how charities, community groups and victims services are being hit hard with little or no additional support. I recently announced a Coronavirus Response Fund to help groups adapt, but I know many in the voluntary sector remain worried about how they can continue to support people and help keep us all safe during this unprecedented national emergency.

“We know also that right now across our region will be people who feel trapped, locked in with their abuser, and whose children suffer as a result.

“So I’m encouraging organisations to come forward and bid to this fund so we can continue to work together to help those in need.

“It is vitally important, now more than ever, that those at risk continue to get the care they need, and to know we are there for them”.”

Many children’s domestic abuse services are thought to be experiencing more difficulty than adult services when providing telephone or online support, especially regarding younger children. Support is normally delivered in schools for some services where it is a safe space for the child and this cannot be offered anymore.

Services are now moving to digital tools, including texts and skype, although there are some services still doing face to face visits on high risk cases.

In the coming weeks the police commissioner will be holding conference calls with key organisations Funding is available via the Home Office’s Children at risk of Domestic Abuse fund.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you can report an incident by ringing 101 or visiting www.northumbria.pnn.police.uk. Also in a non-emergency situation you can text the police on 07786 200814.

In an emergency, always call 999. If you dial 999 and are unable to speak, the emergency operator will ask you to dial 55 and to follow their instruction to quickly put you in touch with police.

Help is also available From Victims First Northumbria, who can be found at www.victimsfirstnorthumbria.org.uk or on 0800 011 3116 More information on the fund can be found here.

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