Victims of domestic violence in Haverhill will benefit from having a dedicated supporting officer and suite in the town.
Haverhill Police opened the new suite on Monday (March 17), and Pc Will Wright will be working primarily in the role of supporting victims of domestic violence during a three month trial period.
Police have already had good feedback about the suite, which aims to offer a more informal and relaxed environment, while having Pc Wright as a dedicated support officer will ensure continuity for victims in seeing police.
Pc Wright said: “I did a victim care course in Bury St Edmunds in December and saw what a difference it makes when you have time for the victims and facilities for them.
“It was identified as a need to reduce repeat domestic abuse in Haverhill and whereas before victim care it would be split between different officers there is now a coordinated approach where victims can come and have a chat and be supported without being in a formal setting.
“I saw one victim in the old room and this one and she said this is a big improvement, and another was so impressed in what we’re trying to achieve she bought us some cups and other items to make it more homely.”
Suffolk’s assistant chief constable Gareth Wilson opened the suite. “Victims are the reason we’re here as police – to prevent crime happening and give opportunities for victims to come forward and take them out of the cycle of crime,” he said.
“This is a real display of how when we work together as partners we can get things done for the public good.”
Inspector Peter Ferrie said Haverhill had a ‘particular problem’ with repeat offenders of domestic violence, and described Pc Wright as the town police’s best ‘problem solver’.
He thanked supporters including Haverhill Town Council, Tesco and admin clerk Roz Henriks.
Natalie McCarthy, from Anglia Care Trust domestic abuse outreach service, said: “It’s positive to have somewhere that’s more relaxed without having to go to Bury St Edmunds, and Will has a real passion for this work.”
Bury St Edmunds refuge manager Annie Munson also said the suite and having Pc Wright as a dedicated officer was a positive development.
Haverhill deputy mayor Maureen Byrne said: “The town council sends its best wishes and congratulations to the inspector and Will.
“The new suite is extremely comfortable, informal and home like and people should feel safe in this new facility.
“Haverhill unfortunately does have serious domestic violence issues and this will encourage more victims to come forward, both men and women.
“The town council will continue to support this initiative and will welcome the feedback in three months as to whether it was successful or needs further resources and funding, and I’m sure Will will be a great success.”
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore was unable to make the launch, but backed the new initiative.
“Domestic abuse is our monthly priority this month and I’m delighted that we have been able to get this facility in the station,” he said.
“We discussed spare accommodation and said there’s not enough capacity for dealing with victims of abuse and serious sexual offences, so we wanted to deliver this suite.
“Most women won’t want to travel 30 miles to go through these issues in detail, so it’s good to bring the facilities closer to them.
“The average victim suffers 35 incidents before coming forward, so we want to make it easier for them to do that.
“If we get more people coming forward then I give a commitment that this will stay and we will learn what we can do to make it better.”
For all the latest news see Thursday’s (March 27) Echo.