Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
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Victims of domestic abuse in Bedfordshire will benefit from an improved, dedicated domestic violence and abuse service following the award of a new contract approved by the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway.

The majority of support services for all victims of crime are now commissioned by PCCs and in terms of domestic abuse figures show that:

·         One in four women is abused during her lifetime;
·         One in nine is severely physically abused each year;
·         Two are killed each week
·         Victims are subjected to an average of 36 abusive incidents before seeking help

Pointing out that domestic abuse affects men as well as women, Ms Holloway said that she was delighted to be able to commission specialist, community-based help for those assessed as ‘high risk’.
The PCC, in partnership with Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire local authorities, has commissioned Victim Support to provide an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) service for Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire.  Specialist case workers will assess the individual needs of each victim to provide tailor-made solutions, according to need, helping those who have been abused to move on with their lives most effectively.
With nearly £100,000 a year invested in this new service, to which high or very high risk victims are referred through a multi-agency assessment process, Ms Holloway said that in the 12 months ending 31 March 2016 there were 3,263 incidents of domestic abuse reported to Bedfordshire Police.  With increasing confidence in the police and changes in legislation it is likely that this figure will continue to rise.
“Tackling domestic abuse is not purely a police issue,” she added.  “Ending the misery endured by so many people is an absolute priority for Bedfordshire Police and our partners.  The role community-based services play in widening access to help and specialist support is vital and this new service will facilitate delivery of an enhanced service.
“We know that victims are often in the grip of a multitude of social problems including debt issues, eviction issues, housing crises and health problems. This is why we need to find holistic solutions to help resolve all those issues which can often compound the problem or increase the risk of repeat victimisation.
“The decision to fund the IDVA service will allow for stronger partnership working going forward to enable those most vulnerable of victims to cope, recover and move on with their lives.

“Whenever I have been out in our 999 response vehicles or sitting in our control room I have been horrified by the constant level of demand relating to life threatening emergencies around domestic violence. We simply have to work together to do everything humanly possible, within our budget, to intervene and protect the most vulnerable from assault in their own homes where they have every right to feel safe.”