Tackling domestic abuse in Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester has today become the first area of the UK to record domestic abuse in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT) as police take a recording method force-wide.
Recent research suggests there are issues that especially affects bisexual people. A report from the USA for example found 61% of the bisexual women interviewed experienced rape, violence and/or stalking in their lifetime compared to 43.8% of lesbians and 35.5% of straight women. 47% of bi men have had a violent partner – compared to 40% for gay men and 21% for heterosexual men.
Following work between Greater Manchester Police, support service Independent Choices, LGBT Foundation and specialist trainers, code D66 has been used in GMP’s City of Manchester division since June to record reports of domestic abuse in the LGBT community.
Over 100 incidents have been logged in the pilot area since then and from today, Monday 10th April, officers in all areas of Greater Manchester will use the code.
Since June, police and partners have had extra training to increase their understanding of the different needs of people who find themselves in domestic abuse situations. The partnership has also seen a new Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (or IDVA), run by Independence Choices in partnership with the LGBT Foundation.
No other police force in the UK has recorded this information before and it’s hoped that its introduction will add to Greater Manchester’s current work to capture trends and patterns and ultimately tackle the issue and support victims in the most effective way possible.
The code is being welcomed with a community event at Richmond Tearooms with partners coming together to talk to key community members about how the changes will help the community and show solidarity for tackling domestic abuse.
Detective Chief Inspector Myra Ball from GMP said: “This is a huge step forward in tackling domestic abuse specifically within the LGBT community here in Greater Manchester, and shows our commitment to supporting all victims of domestic abuse in the best way possible, for them.
“Over the six month pilot in just one area of Greater Manchester we logged over 150 incidents of LGBT domestic abuse. This code will help us to identify and monitor LGBT domestic abuse incidents, which in turn will help us shape any processes needed to tackle it.
“Across the multiagency partnership we have identified the lack of monitoring in this respect and the partnership has funded a specialist LGBT IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Adviser) at Independent Choices. We are also continuing our work on a national level with the national LGBT domestic abuse helpline at Galop to better understand the issues surrounding domestic abuse in the LGBT community and encourage victims and friends and family of victims to report the issue and have the confidence to come forward.”
GMP has previously recorded a victim’s sexuality when it has been a motivation for a hate crime but, alongside other work to raise awareness of domestic abuse within the LGBT community, this new code will see them further break down the stigma attached to domestic abuse.
The change come just a year and a half after GMP made a pledge to adapt their system as part of awareness raising campaign “There’s no pride in domestic abuse”. The first of its kind, the campaign was specifically dedicated to the LGBT community and was launched ahead of 2015’s Manchester Pride Festival.
Joanne Simpson, Manager at Independent Choices said: “Congratulations to GMP in leading the way on highlighting and identifying domestic abuse incidents in the LGBT communities. This will go a long way in breaking down barriers that prevent people coming forward to receiving help.
“We are delighted that referrals to our new LGBT IDVA Service have been coming through from GMP. This allows us to support people in the community who may have not reached out for help.”
Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said: “Domestic abuse is still very much a hidden issue in the LGBT community. But this ground-breaking move is already helping to give a clearer picture of this abuse. Combined with the investment in specialist support services and working with the LGBT Foundation, Independent Choices and others to raise awareness of violence, abuse and controlling behaviour we are challenging stigma and encouraging more people to speak out and take that first step to get help and support.”
Nik Noone, CEO of Galop said: “Domestic abuse does not discriminate, and neither should the reporting of domestic abuse. The GMP’s D66 code will not only help break down barriers to reporting, we hope it will encourage other police forces across the country to rollout similar initiatives. Galop will be working hard to support this key development for LGBT survivors.”
People in Greater Manchester are encouraged to get comfortable talking about domestic abuse in all its forms – including coercion and control – thanks to the ‘Sitting Right With You’ campaign. The campaign gets people thinking differently about domestic abuse and encourages victims or concerned friends and family to take that first step towards help and support.
For information and support, visit www.sittingrightwithyou.co.uk.