Staffordshire Police are giving mobile phones to some domestic violence victims in emergency accommodation to help them stay in touch with the constabulary and other key agencies, while the Metropolitan Police Service (Met) in London is using Whatsapp for Clare’s Law alerts.
The Staffordshire initiative in Stoke-on-Trent is part of a wider effort to provide extra support to people fleeing violent situations or struggling with mental health problems. Before being given out, the phones are loaded with useful contacts based on the individual’s circumstances.
Police community support office Simon Jones, who is helping lead the initiative, said many people in emergency accommodation had left behind all their possessions, including mobile phone, making it hard for the police to have regular contact with them.
The scheme is funded by £500 from the Tesco Bags of Help Covid-19 Communities Fund.
Meanwhile, the Met is employing WhatsApp to warn people about their partner’s past through the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), better known as Clare’s Law in memory of Clare Wood, who was murdered by an ex-partner with a history of violence against women.
The Met’s use of a social media platform comes at a time of increasing reports of domestic abuse and restricted movement – for officers and victims alike – during the coronavirus lockdowns, sector journal Police Professional reported.
Traditionally people using the DVDS would have to attend a police station to be told the result of their application.