A new police initiative to combat domestic abuse begins on Monday.
Northumbria Police will introduce a training programme to help its staff identify coercive control by aggressors over their victims.
The initiative, which was requested by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird, will be delivered to all staff from the Chief Constable down, whether frontline or not, teaching how to recognise the behaviour, understand the impact it has on victims and how best to deal with it.
It follows a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) last year, which identified “poor attitudes” within the police to this issue and a lack of understanding of how victims are bullied and intimidated.
Mrs Baird is a member of a National Oversight Group, chaired by the Home Secretary Theresa May, which was established to monitor and report on the progress in introducing the recommendations in the report.
The force has spent six months creating the training programme with expert input from external agencies and wider consultation with voluntary and community groups.
Mrs Baird said: “I’m delighted that Northumbria Police has responded so positively to my request to devise training to improve the awareness of their staff about coercive control.
“Coercive control is abuse quite different from more obvious and provable physical violence and often involves behaviour that may seem trivial to outsiders, but can have a huge impact on the victim.
“It can consist of intimidation and humiliation, including threats, stalking, verbal abuse, stopping contact with friends and family, and deprivation of money or even food.
“I hope the training can become an exemplar for other forces in tackling domestic abuse in all its forms.”
Assistant Chief Constable Winton Keenen added: “The aim of the training that we have designed in response to the Commissioner’s request is to improve the service a victim of domestic abuse will receive from Northumbria Police.
“This will be by equipping officers with the knowledge they need to deal with perpetrators of the abuse and provide appropriate support to victims. Their well-being and our service to them remains paramount.
“We are grateful for the invaluable input from external partners.”