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PCC in launch of Bedfordshire's first service for male victims of domestic abuse - and spreads word that police will help men to discover whether their partner has a history of violence
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, helped launch the first service in the county to provide crucial support for male victims of domestic abuse and stressed that men too can take advantage of the law to reveal a partner’s violent past. 

The Commissioner has invested £25,239 in the men and boys’ service, to be delivered by Families First Bedfordshire through men’s groups at its Goldington Family Centre base in Bedford assisted by the Hope Programme, which delivers specialist one-to-one counselling. She addressed the launch event (6 June), expressing her horror that it has taken until now to provide male victims with the type of service which has been available to women and girls for years. 

“Boys can clearly be victims of sexual abuse and exploitation as children and I am fully aware of the physical abuse and coercive control which can be exerted by some women involving their partners. A Commissioner is here to close the gaps in services for victims and that is precisely what I am doing by investing more than £25,000 in this new service at Family First and helping support talking therapies at the Hope Programme,” said the Commissioner.

“It is truly horrifying to me that, in 2018, this is the very first support service, providing help from highly trained specialist counsellors and advisors, to be made available to men and boys in Bedfordshire.”

The PCC also called on detectives present at the event to explain that men and boys can also ask police to confirm whether or not their partner has kept a violent past secret from them.
DCI Jerry Waite, who works within Bedfordshire Police’s specialist Emerald Team, the unit which investigates Domestic Abuse, confirmed that although data protection rules are observed, a man or boy can ask the police for help in the same way as a woman. 

“All members of the public have the right to ask about their partner’s criminal history. The law allowing this is the domestic violence disclosure scheme and allows people to ask the police if they have any information about their partner that they should know to help them understand if they or their family are at any risk from that person. This law is not gender specific and men can make the request as well as women. Requests can be made by visiting your local police station or calling the police on 101,” said DCI Waite.

DCI Waite also praised the new support service for male victims. “Providing support for the survivors of Domestic Abuse cannot be underestimated. The vital work in aiding recovery is so important and Families First have taken that to the next level in providing support for male victims of Domestic Abuse. 

“Domestic abuse against men is an almost hidden crime as men find it difficult to talk and disclose that they are victims. That’s why organisations like Families First are so important to change this and to give those male survivors the chance to get that support.”

During the launch, those attending heard from Alex Skeel who was subjected to physical abuse, denied food and sleep and was isolated from his friends and family by his former partner, Jordan Worth. Bedfordshire Police worked hard to secure what is thought to be the UK’s first conviction for coercive control involving a female offender and Worth was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. 

“The service I received from the officers that came to my house, through investigation and detection, then victim care; Bedfordshire Police were fantastic. I believe the reason I survived to tell my story is to help others going through a similar ordeal. I don’t want one more person to suffer what I’ve gone through.

“I would implore anyone in a similar situation to ask for help. Help is available, and you will be believed,” said Alex Skeel.

“I’m proud to say that, at the Force’s recent training events for all officers to stress the culture the Chief Constable and I expect in our policing, Alex’s was the first case that was shown to indicate the achievements Bedfordshire Police is most proud of for the past year. It was the work of one perceptive officer, who gently talked Alex into opening up and revealing the truth about the injuries being inflicted on him and the control being exerted over his life, that led to this prosecution and help for Alex himself,” said PCC Holloway.

The one to one counselling service which works in conjunction with the men’s group at Families First, is provided by the highly experienced practitioners of the Hope Programme run by Margaret Barker.

“I am delighted that Kathryn Holloway our Bedfordshire PCC has granted funding for putting in place much needed support for male victims of domestic and sexual violence.  We have 3-4 calls per week from men asking for help to recover from the trauma of abuse.   Let's be clear trauma is not a mental illness it is long lasting harm caused by violence.  Thank you to our PCC for this important funding,” said Margaret Barker.