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Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has targeted £147k in grant funding to support those facing domestic violence and abuse in response to what she refers to as a new epidemic in crime.
The PCC announced the funding to help fund women’s refuge spaces and on-going support for victims of domestic abuse and referred to the new crime challenges facing the Force.
“At a time when traditional crime like burglary and robbery is falling as a result of police work, CCTV coverage and as it is being designed out of homes and cars, there is a sinister new epidemic in crime which is taking place behind closed doors, rather than in public, where it is correspondingly more difficult to police, including domestic violence and abuse of children,” said Commissioner Holloway.
“That is why I was determined to fund the most urgent support of all required by victims – a place of safety when they need it most – and on-going counselling and practical advice to help them rebuild their lives in a safer home,” she said.
The £147k in funding will go to women’s refuges and support groups working not only in Luton but throughout the county plus a special £5k Domestic Abuse Emergency Refuge Fund to be held by Bedfordshire Police’s Public Protection Unit, for the first time, to help it meet the cost of finding appropriate safe accommodation for women when local refuges are full.
“The scale of the problem is such that police often cannot find a safe local refuge for a victim. In the past women were sometimes housed in hotels in an emergency but, as these are public buildings, there can clearly be the danger of discovery. In cases of honour-based violence and all threats to a woman’s life, the dangers of this are all too clear. This is why I wanted to give Bedfordshire Police the resources to pay for emergency travel and accommodation for a proper place of safety,” said the Commissioner.
The funding will subsidise four projects run by the Luton’s All Women’s Centre – a counselling service, the ONA project, a Domestic Abuse Service and a Forced Marriage / Honour Based Violence service – as well as services run by Women’s Aid in Luton and TOKKO Youth.
Melanie Skyers, Chief Executive of Luton All Women’s Centre, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded £104,000 from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office.
“We recognise that it is often extremely difficult to disclose abuse and for women to come forward and ask for help. It is therefore essential that when they do seek help those services are in place.
“Each year we have seen a significant increase in numbers of women engaging in our services which allows them to disclose abuse, escape and eventually cope and recover. Our wide range of services, delivered in our centre and within community settings has enabled them to move forward positively in their lives and their children’s lives free from fear and abuse.”
Nikki Bennett, TOKKO Young Mothers Support and Youth Worker said: “At TOKKO we are thrilled to be able to provide bespoke support for young people who are victims of domestic abuse in a safe, secure and non-judgemental environment.
“The PCC grant funding means that we will be able to run targeted programmes to help young people move from victim to survivor and have a positive outlook on the future with more awareness of perpetrator tactics. We are very excited to launch our first cohort in the autumn which would not be possible without this funding.”
For more information about victims services in Bedfordshire, please visit the Victims section of the PCC’s website.

Notes to Editors

Further details on the projects as follows:

Luton All Women’s Centre Counselling
The £16,887 grant will help fund and expand the existing counselling programme at Luton All Women’s Centre, which supports vulnerable and isolated women who have been victims of an abusive situation, helping them to remove or assert themselves from that position and better manage their mental health during the period of coping and recovery.

LAWC Forced Marriage / Honour Based Violence Service
The LAWC’s Forced Marriage/Honour Based Violence service, due to receive £22,132 from the Police and Crime Commissioner, will support vulnerable, often marginalised women who have been (or are at risk of being) victims of Forced Marriage or Honour Based Abuse in Luton and the surrounding areas. The service will also help women to understand their legal rights and provide referrals for legal advice.

LAWC ONA project
The LAWC’s ONA project supports vulnerable Polish women living in Luton and the surrounding areas who are victims of domestic abuse. With the £26,778 from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, the project hopes to increase reporting of abuse among polish women, improve the relationship between Police and the Polish community as well as remove the barriers some Polish women face in accessing support services.

LAWC Domestic Abuse Service
The £38,451 grant will help fund our Domestic Abuse Service which supports vulnerable women and girls who are experiencing (or have suffered historical) abuse and enables young people to better recognise abusive relationships at an early age, in Luton and the surrounding areas; in South and Central Bedfordshire.

Women’s Aid in Luton
The £39,275 for Women’s Aid in Luton will go towards their complex needs refuge support project, which will provide access to safe secure accommodation for women and children across Bedfordshire escaping domestic abuse.
The project also provides practical and emotional support, advocacy and guidance to support women and children both in refuge and in the community. Women’s Aid provides a specialist service working with an empowerment model to help the women overcome the effects of the abuse they have suffered.

TOKKO Youth will receive £4313 from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to fund the Freedom programme, which is designed to support male and female victims of domestic abuse enabling them to recognise the signs of potential perpetrators, to change their own behaviour and to recognise when they are being controlled.