Barnsley Chronicle Column – Domestic Abuse

If you live with a controlling partner, a lock down is a daunting prospect.

The restrictions on movement over the last twelve months have meant that families have been cooped up at home for long stretches of time, putting huge pressure on relationships.

But where a partner is prone to violence, this can become unbearable, and then the police become involved.

Protecting vulnerable people in this situation is one of my top priorities for policing.

As well as the adult, I am also very aware that there may be children who are victims of abuse, or who may witness it.

This is also why I give as much support as I can to those organisations in Barnsley that help people caught up in domestic abuse – such as IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Service).

So I have been concerned to know how the police in the Barnsley district, together with partner organisations, have been dealing with this during this time of crisis.

When the first lock down began, there was a feeling across the country that there would be a rise in cases of domestic abuse.

In Barnsley there was a 7% increase.

The police realised that people who needed help might have difficulty in making contact if the perpetrator of violence was in the home.

New ways of getting in touch were developed – such as the Silent Solution. This allowed a person in difficulty to dial 999 on a mobile phone, followed by 55, leaving the phone open.

The call handler would listen to what was happening and make a judgement about a police response.

If the situation was clearly serious, officers could be sent very quickly.

The police focus in Barnsley has been on the timeliness of the response, meticulous investigation and effective safeguarding of all at risk.

There is a dedicated team of officers, though officers are rotated to enable all officers to appreciate how to handle DA in a sensitive and effective way.

Arrests are made swiftly and this enables support to be given by IDAS or other partners.

I am quite certain that the service offered by Barnsley police to victims of domestic abuse, adults and children, has been of the best.

As testimony to that, a victim, who had been threatened for over a year and feared for her life, recently wrote this: “I would like to make you aware of the amazing support that has been given to me by one of your officers … I can’t stress how grateful I am…”

That is good policing.