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Police force tries out live chat for domestic abuse victims

Suffolk Police says it has successfully piloted online live chat in what it termed a revolutionary way to safely communicate with victims of domestic abuse.

The trial scheme generated many repeat conversations with the force which, it says, showed users found the platform engaging and useful, As the average conversation length was 40 minutes, that indicated victims were comfortable having a detailed and in-depth conversation online.

“Live chat’s potential is underestimated,” said assistant chief constable Rob Jones. “Not enough of it is about helping people and victims in terms of emotional engagement.”

Live chat interactions make domestic abuse, stalking, harassment and honour-based violence (DASH) risk assessments easier, according to Suffolk Police.

“Users were more likely to share more in-depth information and present that in a coherent way than when speaking over the phone or face-to-face to an officer,” the constabulary added.

The live chat service makes use of many safety features, such as a quick exit button which diverts to the BBC and leaves no trace of the interaction in the browser history. There is also instant language translation which helps those for whom English is not their mother tongue.

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