Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, has called on local businesses to support colleagues suffering domestic abuse.

While hundreds of North East employees were signed up to domestic abuse champion training ran by the PCC’s office during the pandemic, she says more workplaces could be taking those suffering under their wing by having colleagues trained to sign-post them to support or to help make special arrangements to ensure they are safe.

At an online event held by the North East England Chamber of Commerce on what businesses can do to reduce violence against women and girls, the Commissioner raised the importance of education. However, she stressed education isn’t just a job for our schools and that awareness and understanding around domestic abuse often needs teaching to the grown-ups too.

She said that employers have a duty and responsibility to provide staff with a safe working environment and that businesses can, and should, be playing a vital role when it comes to recognising those at risk of domestic abuse or violence.

Following the event, Kim’s office was inundated with enquiries about the domestic abuse workplace champions’ scheme with enquiries from a range of sectors including engineering and childcare. As a result, her Violence Reduction Unit is now in the process of lining up a series of further online training opportunities, with more information available on the website –

Northumbria Police and Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “For some staff, the workplace can be the only safe haven from the horrors of home – it offers escape, sanctuary and refuge. Just think what lockdown must have been like for these people. You see, victims of domestic abuse need help from employers, as well as the police. Colleagues are often the eyes and ears to it all.

“They might hear a partner shouting at a colleague on the end of a Teams call or someone saying they won’t be coming on the work night out simply because their husband won’t like it”, she explained.

“Colleagues might even be the person a victim turns to for help. This is why it’s so important to have staff that are aware and can give the right response. They know the best things to say and where to signpost them to.”

The Commissioner thanked organisations at the event who were already on board, taking a lead with making domestic abuse a workplace priority and invited other attendees recognising the need to do more to make contact with her office.

Kim added: “As well as duty of care and doing the right thing, it goes without saying that employers know that personal, “real life” problems affect job performance too, and that job performance affects the bottom line. And so making sure those around us – whether working in an office, a shop, a factory – are all equipped with the skills to talk about domestic abuse and know the appropriate action to take. It’s a win all round and a business that gets this right could, quite frankly, save a life.”

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