LGBT DO­MES­TIC ABUSE

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Greater Manch­ester Po­lice steps up to sup­port vic­tims

In 2016, Greater Manch­ester Po­lice be­came the first po­lice force in the UK to record do­mes­tic abuse in same- sex re­la­tion­ships. The ground­break­ing scheme, de­vel­oped over an 18- month pe­riod in con­sul­ta­tion with Bro­ken Rain­bow and LGBT Foun­da­tion, makes GMP the only force in Bri­tain to record sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity, pro­vid­ing statis­tics on same- sex do­mes­tic abuse for the first time. Jac­qui Gavin spoke to De­tec­tive Con­sta­ble Sarah Har­ris (pic­tured right) one year on to find out what progress has been made.

DIVA: GMP be­came the first po­lice force in the UK to record LGBT do­mes­tic abuse. Since this pol­icy was in­tro­duced in June 2016, have you noted changes in how do­mes­tic abuse is re­ported?

SARAH HAR­RIS: We started with a trial pe­riod from June to De­cem­ber 2016 [dur­ing which we] recorded 100 in­ci­dents of do­mes­tic abuse. We have no fig­ures to com­pare this to yet but along with an ex­ter­nal joint cam­paign with our part­ner agen­cies, we hope to con­tinue to pro­mote the work we are do­ing and in­crease re­port­ing.

Many were sad to hear of the col­lapse last year of LGBT do­mes­tic abuse char­ity Bro­ken Rain­bow, which you worked with to set up this scheme. Who are you now work­ing with and sign­post­ing to?

We are work­ing with Galop, which runs the Na­tional LGBT Do­mes­tic Abuse Helpline, and lo­cal agen­cies in­clud­ing In­de­pen­dent Choices and LGBT Foun­da­tion. Be­ing able to pro­vide fig­ures from the six- month trial means that part­ner agen­cies had facts and fig­ures to as­sist in com­mis­sion­ing an LGBT In­de­pen­dent Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Ad­vo­cate (IDVA), who has been in post since Fe­bru­ary. We also have a joint me­dia cam­paign, an ad­vert on Gay­dio and a poster cam­paign. We held a launch event that at­tracted lo­cal and na­tional me­dia in April. But we are al­ways look­ing for new ways to pro­mote the work and ul­ti­mately en­cour­age vic­tims to come for­ward and get help.

Same- sex do­mes­tic abuse is hugely un­der­re­ported, with many reluc­tant to come for­ward as the LGBT com­mu­nity hasn’t al­ways been taken se­ri­ously by the po­lice. What would you say to that?

GMP of­fi­cers have re­ceived spe­cific train­ing from an ex­ter­nal trainer, Emma Miller- Mc­caf­frey. This not only as­sists of­fi­cers when at­tend­ing in­ci­dents of same- sex do­mes­tic abuse but it has also shown the com­mu­nity that we want you to come for­ward. If you don’t want to speak to the po­lice, please make sure you speak to some­one.

How do you think we can raise aware­ness and en­cour­age peo­ple to re­port abuse in Manch­ester and beyond?

Hope­fully other forces will be able to mimic the work that we are do­ing. GMP will con­tinue to pro­mote our work but we can’t do it alone. It’s im­por­tant that ev­ery­one works to raise this as an is­sue.

What have been your big­gest suc­cesses in the area of same- sex do­mes­tic abuse?

We are proud that we are the first force to do this ground­break­ing work and ini­tial feed­back is that the com­mu­nity is proud to live in an area where this has been in­tro­duced. We have built good re­la­tion­ships with mem­bers of the LGBT com­mu­nity and we want to con­tinue with this suc­cess.

Fi­nally, what would you say to some who is or has been the vic­tim of do­mes­tic abuse?

I would ask any­one who feels they are be­ing abused by a part­ner, ex- part­ner or fam­ily mem­ber to come for­ward to the po­lice or the Na­tional LGBT Do­mes­tic Abuse Helpline. You will be be­lieved and we can help. Or if you know some­one – maybe a friend – who is suf­fer­ing, please pass this in­for­ma­tion on and en­cour­age them to seek help. Be­ing able to com­mu­ni­cate is key to a suc­cess­ful con­clu­sion.

“If you are be­ing abused, come for­ward – you will be be­lieved and we can help”

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