Cleveland Police domestic abuse cars’ initiative has supported around 285 victims of domestic abuse between June last year and January 2023.
A police officer who is domestic abuse trained and an Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA) who is a specialist support worker from an external agency such as Harbour or My Sisters Place, are deployed in a vehicle every weekend and only attend domestic abuse incidents across Cleveland.
Over the same period, more than 600 Clare’s law disclosures have been given, which give people the right to know if their current or ex-partner has any previous history of violence or abuse.
There were also 111 referrals to domestic abuse support services, 37 referrals to non-domestic abuse support services such as housing services and 22 victims moved to safety.
Detective Superintendent Paula Dewell, Head of Adult Safeguarding, said: “Our domestic abuse cars have been a superb form of support for victims of domestic abuse in Cleveland. The DA car is an initiative that we have ran periodically since 2018 and we have had some great feedback from victims and from the officers and the IDVA’s involved.
“Domestic abuse is a priority for us, we want to reassure victims that they can feel confident enough to come forward and report incidents to us and feel reassured that every incident will be dealt with sensitively and investigated thoroughly.”
Feedback from the IDVA’s involved includes:
1. “I have found the last few shifts very beneficial - I have found more clients that we are delivering Clare's Laws to are actually accepting ongoing support from a DA service.
“An example of this is we went to one and the client actually said at the door they had split up and she’s not interested in getting the disclosure. I told her she could still get the Clare’s Law in case of risk of resuming the relationship. After inviting myself and the officer in, she disclosed a high amount of abuse that had gone unreported and historic abuse from a previous relationship that she hadn’t ever got support with. I know to this date she is on the Inspire programme, getting counselling and has a support worker which is positive.”
2. “On the busier shifts it was extremely rewarding. I think the victims got a lot from it as well, just having a bit of face-to-face support later on in the night when they are on their own. When we went to live jobs a lot more clients engaged because they got some support straight away instead of having to wait for a call.”
Feedback from the officers involved includes:
“I think the shifts are a valuable addition to safeguarding victims of domestic abuse for a number of reasons. Firstly, they develop links between officers and DA support workers, helping both sides understand the other’s job roles, and enabling officers to see first-hand the support that agencies offer, and the positive effect this can have on DA victims.
“Secondly, I think victims have an enhanced level of service as a result of the DA support car shifts. Victims that may have declined to provide a statement and otherwise might not hear from the police again, are getting further visits and being given the opportunity to further discuss issues with police and support agencies at the same time. I have seen victims be very appreciative of this first-hand and accept further support and referrals when they otherwise wouldn’t have.”