BLACKPOOL has the highest rate of domestic violence in Lancashire – and now a specialist officer is set to target one of the resort’s most deprived areas.
More than 500 incidents of domestic abuse are reported to the town’s police every month, with victims suffering everything from verbal abuse to physical violence.
Now the Bloomfield area, which has some of the highest rates of deprivation in the town, is preparing to get its own specialist domestic violence police officer every weekend after local councillors agreed to fund the £3,000 cost for a month-long trial.
Coun John Jones, who represents the ward, said it is hoped the specialist officer will make a massive difference to lives.
He said: “Domestic violence is a very big problem in Bloomfield ward.
“The issue has become quite horrendous over the past couple of years and there are multiple incidents happening every weekend.
“It is the most deprived area in Blackpool and one of the most deprived areas in the North West.
“The evidence is there to show that in deprived areas you do get domestic violence incidents more than in other areas.”
The officer, who will ensure statements are taken from victims immediately after an incident, will initially be funded as part of a month-long pilot scheme.
Coun Jones hopes it will lead to victims getting support quicker and added: “I think we have to try this, it’s too important an issue to not try it because somehow we’ve got to break the cycle.”
The number of cases in Blackpool means the resort tops Lancashire police’s domestic violence list, with more than 500 incidents being reported every month.
But Det Insp Tony Baxter, who leads the town’s public protection unit, said the figure is both a concern and a reflection of the police’s hard work to encourage victims to report abuse.
He said: “Not all of the incidents are violent incidents, a lot of them are verbal arguments.
“I would encourage people to report early because if they report when it’s at the verbal argument stage they are less likely to be harmed.
“The evidence suggests victims suffer 35 incidents of abuse before they pick up the phone and the longer people let it go on, the more likelihood there is they will be harmed.”
If the Bloomfield trial is successful, the initiative could be rolled out across other high risk areas.
And Det Insp Baxter added: “All the evidence shows if you throw specialist resources at a problem it undoubtedly has an effect.
“Domestic violence is something we take very seriously.”
The initiative has been welcomed by Fylde Coast Women’s Aid, and Tina Hibbard, from the charity, said: “I think it’s a really good idea.
“It could work and it’s a positive thing to be trialling.”