On average a victim suffers 25 incidents of domestic abuse before they report it to the police – this staggering statistic is one of the reasons why West Yorkshire Police are campaigning to show people who are suffering at the hands of their partner that help is available at the end of the phone.
Carla Cammack and Louise Kelly, both Customer Contact Centre Agents at West Yorkshire Police, have said anyone who suffers any form of domestic abuse can be assured police will attend and will treat their case with the utmost sensitivity.
West Yorkshire Police has today issued a You Tube video of their call handlers talking about their experiences of helping victims of domestic abuse.
Last night the Customer Contact Centre received 50 999 calls relating to domestic abuse during England’s third Euro 2016 match, a decrease of 47 per cent on the previous Monday and the first time since the tournament began where there has been a significant drop in calls.
Speaking in the video, Louise said excess alcohol consumption can be a factor in many incidents reported to the police.
She said: “Alcohol is a factor in a lot of calls we take – people can be out drinking, in the pub or at home and arguments can start between the couple and one thing can lead to another. Incidents can quickly escalate from criminal damage in the home to violent attacks in a matter of minutes.”
Louise recalled a particular call she had from a woman who had taken the brave step to contact the police.
She said: “I spoke to a lady who called when her husband had gone to work, she sounded very scared and said she had to wait until he had left the house. She said she had been subjected to emotional blackmail and physical abuse for the past six years and not reported anything. As we continued to talk, she sounded relieved to get this off her chest and finally get some help.
“It has always stuck in my mind, just because she had endured this abuse for six years without telling anyone about it.”
As well as incidents escalated by alcohol consumption, another frightening element to domestic abuse incidents happen when children are present and can be in danger.
Carla recalled an incident where a mother had barricaded herself and her child in a bedroom when she called the police.
She said: “I remember taking a call from a lady who sounded petrified – she told me that she had locked herself and her child in a bedroom and her partner, who I could hear in the background was shouting and screaming at the bottom of the stairs that he was going to kill them.
“It was a very difficult situation as she kept repeating, ‘get the police here now’. Officers were sent immediately to their home but I stayed on the phone with her to try and calm her down and reassure her that help was on the way.”
The majority of domestic incidents are reported to police via 999, but the police also offer other ways for people to contact them.
Carla explained: “In an emergency, always use 999, but we do have a webchat facility which is used by people who may find it difficult to speak to the police on the phone. This way takes the pressure off them and helps break down the barriers between them and the police. I’ve been on the webchat facility before and had a conversation with a lady, built up a rapport and suggested I call her myself to get her the support she needed.”
Tom Donohoe, Head of the Customer Contact Centre at West Yorkshire Police, said: “International events such as the Euro’s can have a dramatic effect on the volume of calls into the police, especially on match days. Tempers can fray not only just from the result, depending on the team people are supporting, to a controversial decision during the game.
“We offer a wide range of ways for people to get in contact with us, from 999 and 101 to facilities such as webchat. This can be very popular, especially for people wanting to report domestic abuse. Some victims may feel very nervous about speaking to the police, but the webchat offers them a confidential way to speak to us and make that step to report an incident and get some help.
“For the first time during the Euro 2016 tournament we have seen a drop in calls; which is encouraging to see and hope that people are listening to the advice from the police and from partner agencies to keep their tempers in check. I hope that this can be maintained throughout the rest of the tournament and that people can enjoy the football responsibly.
“Those who feel they may be at risk of being victims can contact West Yorkshire Police on 101. If it is an emergency and you feel you are in immediate danger then ring 999. A national domestic violence 24 hour helpline can also be called on 0808 2000 247.”
More help and advice on domestic abuse can be found on the West Yorkshire Police website