NORTHUMBRIA'S Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has re-committed funding to keep specialist domestic abuse staff in Northumbria Police control rooms.

The project, known as the ‘Domestic Abuse Control Room Project’ had received funding from the PCC for 2022 to 2023, this has now been extended from 2023 to 2024. The staff, made up of domestic abuse charity workers, help victims of domestic abuse get the specific help required, including legal assistance and sanctuary.

According to statistics from the project, last year 262 victims made contact with specialist domestic abuse call handlers and nine family members or friends. Calls often exceed an hour as in many cases a risk assessment is undertaken and referrals are made.

A total of 28 per cent of calls last year were assessed as ‘high risk’ and triggered a multi-agency risk assessment, where police, social services and other specialists discuss how to increase the safety of a caller and coordinate an action plan.

The PCC’s director of commissioning and policy Rachel Snaith said: “One of the projects we have introduced to support victims and the police is the Domestic Abuse Control Room Project. It involves domestic abuse specialists to offer support to domestic abuse victims at that point of crisis when they first ring the police.

“So far in terms of impact, for nearly half of callers, it was the first time they had spoken to a domestic abuse specialist. Following the call, they went on to access support. We are tracking the results of that really carefully.”

A report into the project, delivered to councillors from across the region at Gateshead Civic Centre yesterday, stated the pilot has received positive feedback from Northumbria Police.

One testimonial read: “Excellent addition to the risk management desk, now that they are self-sufficient the pilot is working really well. Having the individual domestic violence advocates working in the control rooms has proved a great initiative.

“The advocates are pretty much autonomous now and just get on with their callbacks. There are a few occasions when they need a hand with working the system but this is literally minutes out of the working day.

“Having them in the control room is a benefit because we can pass them live incidents we come across. So only positive feedback at present.”