Employers pledge to support abuse victims at work

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MAJOR employers are signing up to a scheme to support colleagues who are victims of domestic abuse.

Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire police, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group and Solent NHS Trust are making a pledge as part of the Public Health Responsibilities Deal.

It aims to highlight within the workplace signs of domestic abuse and ensure employers are equipped to support staff in abusive relationships.

It comes after latest figures revealed 28,944 domestic violence and abuse incidents were reported to Hampshire police last year – 79 a day.

Reported incidents rose year-on-year from 24,297 in 2008 to 28,944 in 2012.

As reported, Hampshire police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes has vowed to improve victim care, encourage more victims to come forward and target more perpetrators by working with police, charities, voluntary and other professional and organisations.

David Williams, city council chief executive, said: ‘Supporting a member of staff in an abusive relationship is crucial as often the workplace is the only place they will feel safe and have an opportunity to access support.

‘Sometimes it’s just about being flexible, letting staff use a quiet space to make difficult phone calls or to get advice or perhaps swap a shift so that they can keep an appointment.’

He added: ‘People suffering an abusive relationship are experts at hiding their unhappiness even to themselves which makes them really hard to spot in the workplace.’

Supt Ben Snuggs said: ‘This very public statement acts as a benchmark for us all. It underlines our genuine belief that there is a key role for us as employers to play in supporting people to escape an abusive relationship.’

Dr Elizabeth Fellows of NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group said: ‘As an NHS organisation working together with the wider community in Portsmouth, we want to do all we can to raise awareness about domestic abuse and provide the necessary support and understanding.’

Fran Williams, consultant practitioner for safeguarding adults at Solent NHS Trust, said, ‘We encourage our staff to always look out for signs of abuse, and to know how and where to signpost people – including themselves – for help and protection.’