GMP rolls out domestic abuse response cars

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has rolled out dedicated domestic abuse patrol vehicles to allow officers to “promptly respond to domestic incidents” and safeguard victims.

Aug 22, 2023
By Paul Jacques

Funded by Wigan Council in partnership with the NHS, the cars will have a GMP police officer accompanied by independent domestic violence advisers (IDVAs) to attend domestic incidents as they are reported.

GMP said the cars have three simple aims: to respond to domestic incidents effectively and quickly, provide a well-rounded approach to safeguarding victims, and tackle perpetrators of domestic abuse immediately.

Since last month, the force said the domestic abuse cars have been working “at full speed” across the Wigan borough, enabling officers and IDVAs to promptly respond to domestic incidents, visit victims and offer enhanced support in a comprehensive manner.

“Working together as a team, the IDVA and officer ensure the safety of victims and their loved ones and ensure perpetrators are dealt with proportionately and swiftly,” it added.

GMP has worked closely with Wigan Council to secure funding for the specific domestic abuse vehicles as part of the Place and Community Safety Partnership, which brings together multiple agencies to address local issues.

The new approach to tackling domestic abuse has been spearheaded by Chief Inspector Clare Anderson and Wigan Council’s domestic abuse operational manager Lindsey Saunders.

GMP hopes this collaboration with partners will empower victims to choose their next steps, including pursuing legal action or opting for evidence-based prosecution.

“This approach instils confidence that victims will receive unwavering support throughout the legal process from the police and support services, further reinforcing the role of the police as protectors and advocates,” the force said.

Other forces have similar schemes in place, including Cleveland Police and Devon and Cornwall Police.

Chief Insp Anderson, of GMP’s Wigan District, said: “In Wigan we are always looking at new and innovative ways we can work together across the district, the force and with our partners, and a lot of our initiatives would not have been made possible without them.

“In the past, we have introduced similar strategies, exemplified by the mental health car pairing officers with mental health specialists. Its successful trial here led to its adoption across the force, and I sincerely hope that this domestic abuse car will receive lots of positive outcomes and interventions resulting in a force-wide adoption in the future.

“The domestic abuse cars are now in action and having that balance of both a police officer and an IDVA responding to domestic abuse incidents is working extremely well, resulting in some already fantastic outcomes and interventions in our communities.

“This ongoing partnership is dedicated to enhancing lives in Wigan, but also developing our officers, getting them to engage further with other agencies and partners to foster knowledge sharing, skill growth, and build invaluable working relationships.

“I genuinely hope that the impact of domestic abuse cars will persist in helping vulnerable individuals across the whole borough of Wigan.”

Councillor Dane Anderton, portfolio holder for Police, Crime and Civil Contingencies, said: “We are proud to work in partnership with Greater Manchester Police, providing domestic abuse support cars to residents who require this much needed support.

“This initiative reinforces the Place and Community Safety Partnerships wider, ongoing multi-agency work to tackle domestic abuse across the borough, and its already impressive results are testament to the significant collaborative work within the partnership.”

Julie Middlehurst, Wigan Council’s assistant director for Regulatory Services and co-chair of the Domestic Abuse Board, added: “We know domestic abuse can take many forms regardless of gender or sexuality.

“It is our priority to ensure all residents can access the right help and support and understand the options available.

“By joining our IDVSs and police officers together, it will provide enhanced safeguarding to victims and their families at the earliest opportunity. Offering emotional support and reassurance in a comprehensive and cooperative manner.”

GMP currently has multiple teams dedicated to tackling domestic abuse as a force priority, including appointment teams to meet with victims, specialist domestic abuse prisoner processing teams and domestic abuse champions across officers and staff – subject knowledge experts who can “champion and share this knowledge with others across the force”.

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