Home Secretary Amber Rudd visited Warwickshire Police last week (Thursday 30 November) to talk to officers and staff about the force’s approach to tackling domestic violence and abuse.
She was particularly keen to meet with frontline officers about their work, and with victims willing to come forward to share their experiences.
During her visit to Leamington Spa Justice Centre she met with Chief Constable Martin Jelley, Deputy Chief Constable Karen Manners and Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe, as well as uniformed response officers, investigatory and strategic officers.
The Home Secretary also met Domestic Abuse Risk Officer Nina Johnson, Victim Support Manager Mel Hancox and Sue Ingram, Warwickshire County Council’s policy lead on violence against women and girls, as well as two victims of domestic abuse.
Warwickshire Police Chief Constable Martin Jelley said: “It was a great opportunity for us to showcase the excellent work our officers and staff are doing every day to tackle domestic violence and abuse. Our aim as a force is to be great at protecting the most vulnerable people from harm, and this is an area we are particularly passionate about. “It was very positive to have the Home Secretary here today showing such an interest in what we do.”
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “I think it was very useful for the Home Secretary to see how we address domestic violence and abuse in Warwickshire. “We work closely with partners to identify people at risk, address the situation and provide support, always with our focus on the victim.
After meeting with senior police officers at Warwickshire Justice Centre in Newbold Terrace about what services are currently provided for victims in Warwickshire, Ms Rudd met Jill (not her real name), who was seriously assaulted by her husband in 2010 after a nine-year relationship of with ongoing and escalating abuse..
Jill has been supported in her recovery by accessing specialist services in Warwickshire. She is now a qualified health professional and often signposts victims of domestic violence and abuse to services they can access for help. Speaking to the Home Secretary and local media about her ordeal, Jill said: “I spoke to some colleagues who referred me to the Warwickshire Domestic Abuse Service. They were really helpful and arranged for me to go in for a meeting. I was made to feel very welcome. “They gave me lots of advice about how to keep myself safe and formulating an exit plan.” The extreme assault came just before Jill could leave.
The specialist domestic abuse service supported Jill through the court case, and they helped with accessing housing and advice services. Several years after the relationship ended one of Jill’s children was finding it hard to cope with feelings arising from the domestic violence. With the support of domestic abuse services Jill was able to access a programme for children who had experienced domestic violence and abuse at home.
Jill is worried about the level of funding Warwickshire currently receives for domestic violence and abuse, and she told Ms Rudd about how important domestic violence services are for women. Jill added: “For me, it did work well, but this was in 2010. Services have changed, and funding’s been pulled. At the moment, it’s difficult. It needs to be better I feel. “If the funding gets cut and services get cut there’s less support for these women. The women that I work with – we can support them to a degree but you need those specialist services. We can only do so much.”
Sue Ingram, Warwickshire’s Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy Development Manager said: “I am very pleased that the Home Secretary was able to meet survivors of domestic violence and abuse to hear first-hand how important it is to have the specialist services available to support those looking for help with an abusive relationship. It was very interesting to discuss with her how national policy is working on the ground in Warwickshire and to share our experience to inform future developments”.
If you or someone you know are worried about domestic abuse, call Warwickshire’s domestic abuse helpline: 0800 408 1552. The freephone helpline is answered by specialist domestic abuse workers; it is available Mon – Fri 09.30 – 09.30 and Sat 10.00 – 16.00.
In an emergency always call 999.