Published on 8th April 2020

A campaign to encourage those suffering from domestic abuse to seek support during the Coronavirus crisis has been launched by Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner and chief constable.

PCC David Keane and chief constable Darren Martland are working with Cheshire’s four local councils to put up posters in places like supermarkets and pharmacies to provide details of the support available and where to find it.

It is part of the Cheshire-wide Open the Door campaign which encourages those suffering from domestic abuse and their friends and families to seek support. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the issue whilst showing people how to recognise the signs, know what to do and have the confidence to take action.

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It comes after PCC David Keane brought together representatives from the domestic abuse sector to understand the needs of those who may be suffering at this challenging time.

He said: “With the government asking everyone to stay at home to help fight the Covid-19 outbreak, I am concerned that domestic abuse incidents could increase as vulnerable people are trapped at home with abusive partners.

“There is also a concern that people who have not previously been affected may find themselves subject to domestic abuse due to the pressures households are finding themselves during this unprecedented crisis.

“We heard earlier this week that the National Domestic Abuse helpline had received a 25 per cent surge in calls in recent weeks. In Cheshire, we’re seeing a slightly different trend with a reduction in calls to the county’s domestic abuse services.

“However, I believe this could represent a very worrying picture of victims no longer having the means to escape their abusive partners and make vital calls to support services.

“With many people being asked to visit the shops alone as part of social distancing measures, this campaign aims to offer help at the only time they may be alone from an abusive partner and make them realise support is available to them.

“Domestic abuse doesn’t have to stay behind closed doors. Open the Door is there to help people get the help they need and to bring this hidden crime out into the open.”

As well as actively promoting local domestic abuse support services, the Commissioner and Constabulary are also reminding people that if they are in immediate danger, they can dial ‘55’ during a 999 call to let the operator know they are in danger if it’s not safe to speak.

CC Darren Martland added: “We recognise that these are very difficult times for people suffering domestic abuse from partners who are not going out to work and therefore are unable to make contact with support services. However, they still need to shop and this campaign is all about providing an opportunity for them to say something or call someone, in a safe place.

“I want to reassure anyone who is suffering domestic abuse that we are here to support them and would urge them to take this opportunity to make that call for help – either to the police or to their local authority domestic abuse support services.”

You can contact your local domestic abuse support service on the relevant details below:

Cheshire East Domestic Abuse Hub – 0300 123 5101
Cheshire West and Chester: 0300 123 7047, option 2
Halton Domestic Abuse Forum: 0300 111 1247
Warrington Refuge - 01925 243359

If you need support and advice, you can also call Cheshire Police on 101 or the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. In an emergency, where there is a threat to life or a crime is taking place, please call 999.