Police operation supporting domestic violence victims reaches two-year anniversary

A police operation which sees police officers responding to domestic abuse reports alongside a trained NHS domestic abuse specialist has been successfully running for two years.

Operation Provide was launched in 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when people were advised to stay at home.

The operation continues to run across Blackpool, Fylde, Wyre, Lancaster and Morecambe and sees independent domestic violence advocates (IDVAs) from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust accessible to support victims and their children with immediate safety and various plans to support them in the long term.

In two years, Blackpool Police has supported 1,664 victims and has engaged three quarters of them in safeguarding. Additionally, one half of these victims have supported Police investigations.

These are significant increases, with 77% of victims made safer and 50% have benefited from engaging with police investigations following domestic abuse.

Funding has now been secured for a further year of the operation.

Deputy Chief Constable of Lancashire Police, Sacha Hatchett, visited Blackpool Police Station on 10 May 2022, to visit police officers and NHS partners who have all played a vital part in the operation to date.

Inspector Jon Smith, from West Division’s Early Intervention Team, said: “We have been working in partnership over the last two years with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals to innovated and implemented new ways of supporting our victims of Domestic Abuse through Operation Provide. We know that we continue to bring real benefits to the lives of DA victims and those around who are affected by it through our joint working.

“Anyone involved in an abusive or violent relationship needs help and through Operation Provide we remain committed to tackling domestic abuse and supporting victims with the extra support they need to move on from an abusive relationship.

“It is really important that people are aware that help is available for anyone who is experiencing domestic abuse and that they feel that extra support is available to them if they want to escape domestic abuse through Operation Provide.”

Insp Smith added: “We are keen to let people know that we are here to help if they need support and that Operation Provide. I would also urge friends, family and neighbours to let us know if you think someone might be suffering. Please don’t ignore it.”

Hazel Gregory, Head of Safeguarding at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Blackpool Teaching Hospitals remains committed to providing this timely response to victims of domestic abuse alongside constabulary colleagues. We have now seen over 1,700 victims and survivors with good outcomes for victims across Lancaster, Morecambe, Fylde, Wyre and Blackpool.

“Academic evaluation and engagement data continue to demonstrate how impactful this partnership approach is, and we are looking to further expand and extend this award winning and nationally recognised service that commenced in the Fylde coast.”

Andrew Snowden, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, added: “I’m pleased that the vital work being done through Operation Provide is continuing to support victims of domestic abuse and is one of the important ways we are working to ensure victims receive the support they need.

“I have also invested a further £2.5m into Lancashire Victim Services on top of funding provided by the Government to ensure there is expert face to face support for any victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence who want it, whilst this year has seen a dedicated Rape and Serious Sexual Offences team established within the force.

“By combining a clear support for victims, with work around early intervention and also crucially a clear message that if you are committing abuse, officers will be knocking on your door, together we can make a real difference and prevent people from becoming victims in the first place.”

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