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New multi-million pound service supporting victims of domestic abuse coming to Norfolk

A major new service to improve support for victims of domestic abuse is to be launched in Norfolk, following an investment of more than £6million.

The service, led by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN), will bring together specialist support teams to work with victims and their children across the county.

With further investments from local authorities, it will be the first system of its kind in the county, offering a fully integrated service making intensive one-to-one support, a multi-agency response and help towards practical solutions available.

Known as NIDAS - Norfolk Integrated Domestic Abuse Service - the system will see a consortium of specialist support services working together to ensure people living across the county have access to a full range of help and guidance regardless of where they live.

The OPCCN has joined together with Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council and South Norfolk and Broadland Councils to fund NIDAS, with £6.6million being invested in the service over the next five years.
Delivery of services will come from specialist organisations with experience of working in Norfolk, including Leeway, Orwell Housing, The Daisy Programme, The Pandora Project and Safe Partnerships.

NIDAS will work with victims of domestic abuse aged 16 and above of any gender, as well as their children.

The support available will include specialist advisors to help those currently experiencing abuse, recovery programmes for adults and children and a Sanctuary scheme that will provide security upgrades and ‘safe rooms’ for victims deemed to be at high risk.

NIDAS was created with the help of people with direct experience of living with domestic abuse, as well as professionals who work with existing services in the county. Their input helped identify were there are gaps or risks in current services and where the NIDAS system needed to eliminate these.

The launch of NIDAS follows an assessed tender and bidding process against a set of specific criteria to ensure delivery of a service that meets the needs of people across the whole county.
The number of domestic abuse crimes per quarter has risen by 43% over the past three financial years in Norfolk. The continued increase has been linked to factors including greater confidence in reporting and improved police recording. However, domestic abuse is still an underreported crime nationally. The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns coincided with an increase in domestic abuse crimes, and it is now a factor in almost a quarter of all crime reported to Norfolk Constabulary.

Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Giles Orpen-Smellie said: “Domestic abuse is a crime usually happening behind closed doors, but its effects radiate throughout someone’s life, causing devastating damage.
“I am in a unique role in being able to advocate for victims of domestic abuse by doing everything I can to continually develop our Constabulary’s response to these crimes and perpetrators. But the reality also is that we must support victims, whatever their age and wherever they live in the county.
“Several agencies and organisations already work with victims of domestic abuse in Norfolk, and NIDAS is about drawing all that support together to ensure we’re able to offer the best possible help at the time when people need it.”

The service will be launched operationally in the new year and will take referrals from professionals as well as inviting people seeking support to self-refer.
There will be one number for both professionals and individuals, covering the whole of the county, and a dedicated NIDAS website will provide information about the service as well as advice on safe ways to self-refer.
Once a referral has been made, a team of specialists will triage based on risk and need, with the service provided being tailored to individuals. People accessing the service will have a dedicated specialist worker who will be able to provide access to recovery programmes, as well as continue to assess what support is needed.

Giles added: “NIDAS has been specifically designed to assist with long-term and positive outcomes for people who need its support. This will be true from the early identification that someone is suffering from domestic abuse and needs help, right through to their long-term recovery.”

Norfolk County Council leader, Andrew Proctor, said: “The county council has helped to fund this new service which will provide much-needed support to victim-survivors of domestic abuse and I am so pleased that NIDAS will build on the achievements we have already made through our Domestic Abuse Champions programme, in particular.
“Effective partnership working is key to our successful delivery of advice and support in relation to domestic abuse and such a service will ensure that across Norfolk, victim-survivors and their children are able to access the help they need.”

NIDAS has been designed to promote empowerment, build resilience, work towards risk reduction and seek long-term positive outcomes for those it supports.

A Norwich City Council spokesperson said: “We are proud to contribute towards and support the countywide partnership approach to tackling domestic abuse. The new contract will ensure that people who need support are able to access it at the right time, wherever they live. The additional training and support for our staff teams will be invaluable in promoting joined-up working and reducing risk.”

A spokesperson from South Norfolk and Broadland Councils, said:
“Supporting victims of domestic abuse and safeguarding the residents of South Norfolk and Broadland has always been of the upmost importance to us and we are proud to have supported the cause locally for many years. On this occasion we are delighted to have been able to invest in the wider partnership approach to tackling domestic abuse by contributing to NIDAS. We look forward to seeing this investment help to raise awareness and understanding of such an important cause in our region, whilst also aiming to reduce the devastating effect abuse has on individuals.”

Information about how to access current domestic abuse support services can be found here.