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PCC wins 24K grant from the Ministry of Justice for victims of Domestic Violence in Bedfordshire to access help safely

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has been successful in her bid to win a further £24,000 to support those affected by Domestic Abuse during the pandemic from an emergency Ministry of Justice Fund, to be distributed by police charity, the Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust.

This money comes on top of the £60,000 the PCC committed immediately before lockdown to provide emergency accommodation for those fleeing Domestic Abuse during the Covid crisis, with her office finding hotel and rented housing for victims, despite the challenges as so much of the hotel and housing sectors had closed.

The win follows the adoption of the Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust (BPPT) into the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner only weeks ago, to allow the Commissioner’s office to bid for funds requiring a charitable base. BPPT was launched as a charity in 1997 to help build community safety across the county.

As a result of the pandemic, Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust (BPPT) applied for funds to support work undertaken by the Family, Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) in Bedfordshire, which is also part-funded by the PCC. Such courts support parents in care proceedings to address drug and alcohol problems and resolve difficulties in the home, to help families stay together. A portion of the new money will directly support the crime prevention needs of the FDAC clients during this pandemic to help them access support confidentially on secure smart devices, and the rest will be available to all victims of Domestic Abuse across Bedfordshire.

“This money represents partnership working in action and is testament to how partners collaborate and innovate at a time of crisis. Bernii Francis, who is the Domestic Abuse lead for the Family Drug and Alcohol Court in Bedfordshire suggested this idea to my office as she has seen at first hand what an impact practical items like safe online equipment can make to those who are escaping a life of abuse, in keeping them and their children safe” said Commissioner Holloway.  

As a result of the grant, FDAC clients will, through the Partnership Trust, be able to access its services safely and remotely, allowing vulnerable FDAC clients to receive support with minimal risk through technology devices which enable remote and private access to key workers and wider support networks. 

Bernii Francis, the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) Domestic Abuse specialist, said: “Covid-19 has meant that, when accessing support services remotely, some of our clients have had to share computers, tablet devices or smartphones and, in some cases, have no access to any device. The funding will allow us to conduct our Domestic Abuse work safely in these particularly uncertain times; taking the worry away from clients in terms of whether they will still be able to access support. The funding will also allow us to implement additional safety measures ensuring the clients’ needs are met”.

The win follows the adoption of the Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust (BPPT) into the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to allow the Commissioner’s office to bid for funds requiring a charity to qualify. 

Clare Kelly, Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust Chief Executive and Chief of Staff to the PCC, said “This early win, after the recent change for the charity, proves exactly why it’s so beneficial; allowing the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to qualify for funds that we would otherwise have been excluded from.

"The commitment of the Police and Crime Commissioner to support victims in Bedfordshire has meant that we can directly align the charity's purpose and activities with the needs of victims of crime that are passed on to us from the victim support services within the Commissioner’s existing grant-funded organisations, such as Signpost - the victim support hub for Bedfordshire. This connection will allow us to both enhance and increase the support of the charity to prevent crime and reduce the threat of violence to the people of Bedfordshire.”

Specialist victim care coordinators are available by phone to assist those affected by any crime, including Domestic Abuse, through the Signpost victims’ hub on confidential freephone number 0800 0282 887. Callers seeking help during the pandemic are asked to leave a message which will be maintained as private and a care coordinator will get back to them. For those who do not want to receive a return call, a directory of quality support services they can access directly is available at signpostforbedfordshire.com. Both services were introduced by Commissioner Holloway to improve access to victim support specialisms and targeted counselling, wherever victims live in the county and whatever the crime.