Steve White, Acting Police, Crime and Victims' Commissioner has urged victims not to suffer in silence if they are experiencing domestic abuse.
As the UK has entered another national lockdown, the government has made it clear that individuals are permitted to leave their homes if the case is to escape domestic abuse.
Support services across County Durham and Darlington are still accessible for victims of sexual and domestic abuse during lockdown.
Steve White, Acting Police, Crime and Victims' Commissioner said, "With the new restrictions people are being advised to stay at home, however home may not be a safe environment for some individuals living with their abuser.
"Victims may feel like they are unable to get support or leave their home because of a national lockdown however if they are experiencing domestic and/or sexual abuse, restrictions do not apply.
"We strongly encourage victims of abuse to seek help but understand the difficulties of contacting the police through phoning or speaking directly to an officer.
"There are plenty of alternative ways to contact the police more discretely including codewords, social media or using the silent solution system when dialling 999.
"Victims can 'Ask for ANI' which has been developed to allow victims of domestic abuse to access support from the safety of their local pharmacy. Participating pharmacies will display posters in their windows to let people know that they can approach their staff to seek help.
"I want to remind victims, you are not alone, the police and specialist support services will continue to be there and provide crucial support during lockdown."
The Ministry of Justice provided an additional £124,000 to the Office of the Durham Police, Crime and Victims' Commissioner (ODPCVC) in December 2020, in addition to the £400,770 already allocated in June 2020. This has allowed the ODPCVC to provide services with additional resources to ensure they can continue to deliver crucial support to victims of domestic and sexual abuse during COVID restrictions.
The additional funds have allowed services to cope with extra demand, address short-term financial loss and introduce creative ways to deliver support despite lockdown and national restrictions.
Services that have already and will continue to benefit from further funding include HALO, Durham Pride UK and Harbour.
If you, or someone you know, is feeling anxious and unsafe in their home, please visit https://www.myharbour.org.uk/ or call 03000 20 25 25 for help and advice.
If you or someone else is in immediate danger always dial 999 and ask for the police.
If it is too dangerous for you to speak, the Silent Solution system enables someone calling 999 from a mobile phone who is too scared to speak or make a noise to press 55 when prompted. This alerts the call handler that you are in imminent danger and you will be put straight through to the police. If you ring from a landline and you are unable to speak or answer questions and only background noise can be heard, you will also be connected to a police call handler. In both cases, the police call handler will attempt to communicate with you by asking simple yes or no questions. If you are still not able to speak, listen carefully to the questions and instructions from the call handler so they can assess your call and arrange help if needed.
Posted on Thursday 7th January 2021