In the first week of the latest national lockdown, more than 400 vulnerable people reached out for help to victim support agencies across Sussex.
Worryingly though, domestic abuse referrals have begun to decrease, with one specialist support service seeing a fall of nearly 40% in referrals compared to late December.
Although the Government has made it clear that individuals are permitted to leave their homes if they are escaping domestic abuse, the police are concerned that that there may still be many across the county who are suffering in silence.
Support services across Sussex are still accessible for all victims during lockdown and there are many ways in which people can discreetly reach out for the help and support they need.
Safe Space Sussex is an online directory of local services which has a new search tool so that victims of any crime can find the help they need within seconds. It also has a ‘leave site now’ button that users can press to quickly exit the site.
Sussex Police have issued advice on how a victim of crime can covertly let a call handler know they are in danger. The ’55’ technology is for those too scared to speak, to alert a call handler to the fact they need help by pressing 55 on their mobile phone once they’ve dialled 999.
The Government has also announced that, as part of a national campaign, victims of domestic abuse will be able to safely access support from thousands of pharmacies across the UK.
The ‘Ask for ANI’ scheme allows those suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help. By asking for ANI, a trained pharmacy worker will offer a private space where they can understand if the victim needs to speak to the police or would like help to access support.
There will be an on-going sign-up process and the police are asking all pharmacies across Sussex to get involved and help in the fight against domestic abuse by providing another safe space.
If you or someone else is in immediate danger, always dial 999 and ask for the police.