A dedicated team of 30 specialist police officers is ready and waiting to deal with issues of domestic abuse across Sussex.
In addition Sussex Police has introduced a number of new initiatives to encourage the reporting of domestic abuse and support victims – saying that domestic abuse remains a priority for the force at what it calls, “this crucial time”.
The new specialist unit, the Local Resolution Team, can deal by appointment with any cases that are not immediately urgent, including a new video appointment service when conversations can’t take place face to face.
According to Sussex Police the team of officers deals with reports of domestic abuse which are not considered ‘immediately urgent’.
Officers discuss the incident with the caller, carry out an initial investigation and provide safeguarding advice, with the aim being to leave the victim feeling safer than before.
Detective Superintendent Steve Rayland of the force’s Public Protection Command says: “Our preference is to see someone face to face, in private, at a police station. However, we recognise that for many the current restrictions mean they will not be able to attend so the force has new video conferencing technology.
“The officers obtain a safe contact number and send a one time text message to the caller’s smartphone. Activating this link puts the caller in to a virtual waiting room where one of our officers will be able to see and talk to them so that an investigation can take place.”
Part of the safeguarding advice includes referrals to independent support agencies.
Sussex Police explain that there are also dedicated ‘Domestic Abuse’ cars across Sussex that are able to respond to reports where there is not an immediate threat, in addition to emergency response officers who always respond immediately to high risk incidents.These additional mobile resources are equipped with body worn video and respond in marked cars to reports of domestic abuse, with time to listen and deal thoroughly with the allegations.
Sussex Police is also carrying out domestic abuse awareness campaigns at local supermarkets, with high profile signage at entrances and with information available to take away which complements an online campaign.
“Even though our social media pages are already reaching out those affected by domestic abuse, we recognise that not everyone has access to the Internet, and some may have their access controlled,” says Mr Rayland.
“Police officers and PCSOs are visiting supermarkets to raise awareness of domestic abuse and let people know that despite what is going on right now the police are still here, will still respond if you need help and will arrest and prosecute.
“Lockdown hasn’t changed our focus on domestic abuse, it is still a priority and if you are suffering from domestic abuse we urge you to call us or speak to an officer.
“It’s really important people know that alongside these new initiatives we continue to respond to domestic abuse as normal, arresting perpetrators and protecting vulnerable people.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, or know someone who is, and there’s an emergency that’s ongoing or life is in danger, call the police on 999.
If you can’t talk because the perpetrator is nearby, you can then press the numbers ‘55’ into your mobile phone which will alert the operator to your situation.
The Sussex Safe Space website also provides a valuable directory of help and support from all agencies, available near you.