Merseyside Police have established a team of volunteer ‘Champions’ to support colleagues who may be experiencing domestic abuse, after the force joined the Domestic Abuse Workplace Champions scheme run by the region’s Police Commissioner.
The scheme is designed to help employers ensure their organisations are safe places, where staff who are affected by abuse can talk in confidence to trained volunteers who will help them to access effective support in their workplace.
Since Jane Kennedy launched the scheme in April 2019, 28 organisations have signed up to become ‘safe’ employers, giving nearly 16,000 members of staff across Merseyside access to a domestic abuse ‘Champion’ in their workplace.
Now Merseyside Police is the latest organisation to join the initiative, ensuring all 6,100 of its employees will benefit from a safe space in the workplace and trained ‘Champions’ who are on hand to provide support to anyone at risk.
A team of three officers including a Police Constable, a Detective Constable and Detective Chief Inspector and a HR team leader volunteered to undertaken five days of training to become ‘Champions’. They will promote the scheme within the force, ensuring all employees are aware of the support available, provide advice and guidance and ensure anyone affected by domestic abuse can access specialist support where needed.
One of those Champions, DCI Siobhan Gainer, who has been an officer for 14 years, said: "I know how hard it can be to seek support when you work in an organisation as unique as ours, especially if both parties work in the police.
"This for me is about being someone to talk to in confidence, someone who can offer advice and be a conduit or a voice for those who may need support and advice.
"Being in the police shouldn’t prevent people from coming forward but I appreciate the concerns about disclosing domestic abuse to your employer when it is also the police. However, this scheme should hopefully give people the confidence to come and ask for help."
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “I’m delighted that Merseyside Police has joined my Domestic Abuse Workplace scheme, creating a team of ‘Champions’ who are trained to support colleagues who may be at risk.
“It’s estimated that one in four women and one in eight men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Sadly that means in an organisation the size of Merseyside Police, there will be men and women who are living in fear, suffering control and coercion, abuse or intimidation.
“For someone whose home life has become unbearable, their workplace can become a haven of safety. That means employers are in a unique position to help someone who is suffering. By having a safe space within work, safe domestic abuse policies and properly trained ‘Champions’ who are able to listen and provide safe and effective support and guidance to a vulnerable individual, that employer can help a victim to take those all-important first steps in breaking the cycle of abuse.
“By joining this scheme, Merseyside Police has demonstrated its practical commitment to supporting its staff and caring for their welfare and wellbeing. My thanks also go to the selfless volunteers who have given their time to be trained as domestic abuse ‘Champions’. Their willingness to support their colleagues at a time of trauma is commendable. It could even save a life.”
Merseyside Police’s Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Natalie Perischine added: "The nature of domestic abuse means that it often happens behind closed doors. The offender could be a partner, carer or family member and the abuse could be physical, financial, psychological, sexual or digital where the abusive person sends derogatory texts, demands access to the victim's devices, tracks them with spyware or shares images of them online.
"For many who suffer any of these abuses their place of work offers a sanctuary away from the miseries they endure at home and it could be one of the few places they feel safe.
"Our officers and staff protect victims of domestic abuse across Merseyside day in day out. They are trained and experienced in seeing the signs of domestic abuse and taking action. But it is vital that they also look after themselves, and it is important that we as a force provide them with confidential and sensitive support.
"By joining this invaluable scheme we hope it opens a door for any of our officers or members of staff suffering domestic abuse so they can get the help and support they need."
Any organisation which commits to joining the Commissioner’s free Domestic Abuse Workplace scheme is provided with an extensive domestic abuse policy, a toolkit and materials to promote the scheme within their offices and five days of free training for members of staff who volunteer to become workplace ‘Champions’.
Get more information about the Domestic Abuse Workplace Scheme.
Or for more information, please contact the Scheme Coordinator Malka Livingstone on 0151 777 5155 or by email at [email protected]