North East Crime Commissioner speaks out against domestic abuse

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness says businesses can do more to support those who may be suffering from domestic abuse

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has called on local businesses to support colleagues suffering from domestic abuse.

Hundreds of employers in the North East were signed up to domestic abuse champion training ran by the PCC’s office during the pandemic and McGuinness says more workplaces could be taking those suffering under their wing.

To do so, McGuinness suggested having colleagues trained to support victims or to provide special arrangements to ensure their safety.

At an online event held by the North East England Chamber of Commerce, the Commissioner raised the importance of education.

She stressed that education isn’t just a job for schools but awareness was needed for adults also, with domestic abuse education needed in some cases.

She said employers have a duty and responsibility to provide staff members with a safe working environment and that businesses can and should be playing a vital role in identifying domestic abuse or violence.

McGuinness’ Violence Reduction Unit are in the process of lining up a series of further training opportunities.

McGuinness said businesses have a “duty of care” to employees suffering from domestic abuse or violence

Commissioner McGuinness said: “For some staff, the workplace can be the only safe haven from the horrors of home – it offers escape, sanctuary and refuge.

“Just think what lockdown must have been like for these people. You see, victims of domestic abuse need help from employers, as well as the police. Colleagues are often the eyes and ears to it all.

“They might hear a partner shouting at a colleague on the end of a Teams call or someone saying they won’t be coming on the work night out simply because their husband won’t like it.

“Colleagues might even be the person a victim turns to for help. This is why it’s so important to have staff that are aware and can give the right response. They know the best things to say and where to signpost them to.

“As well as duty of care and doing the right thing, it goes without saying that employers know that personal, “real life” problems affect job performance too, and that job performance affects the bottom line.

“And so making sure those around us - whether working in an office, a shop, a factory – are all equipped with the skills to talk about domestic abuse and know the appropriate action to take. It’s a win all round and a business that gets this right could, quite frankly, save a life.”