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4 March 2014, 11:16
Essex Police has changed the way it deals with calls about domestic abuse incidents, which includes launching a new Freephone number.
The force says it has spoken to victims of domestic abuse to find out more how the force could improve the service it provides.
Claire Heath, Head of Customer Service for Essex Police, said: "What we wanted to find out was what worked well, how police involvement made victims feel and how we, and our partners in Essex, could improve.
"It has been very much about giving victims a voice in the way we approach domestic abuse incidents so we can tailor our response accordingly.
"We wanted to learn and understand how we can improve their confidence in us as a service and how we can shape future services to give them the support that they need from the first point of contact right through to the end of the court process, if necessary."
The force has now set up a special Freephone Domestic Abuse telephone number for victims to call which is 0800 358 0351.
Mrs Heath said: "Many victims had asked for a Freephone number to call so that if they want to get updates on the progress of their case they could do so without any cost. This number offers an alternative for those suffering from domestic abuse to make contact with Essex Police."
The force had also changed the way it handles calls to make sure that victims are not asked unnecessary questions when they make contact.
"Policing often requires a lot of paperwork to make sure we gather all the necessary information about an incident," said Mrs Heath.
"But we have recognised that when a victim first calls us that is not always the best time to get all of this detail.
"We have also taken on board the need for victims to have a dedicated point of contact to help build trust and continuity. We have committed to providing one dedicated named point of contact, who will provide victims with updates, guidance and advice.
"We then aim to follow this through from the first point of contact, during an investigation and any subsequent court hearing.
"One of the other major innovations we are also carrying out is to work together with other agencies to keep victims and their families safe. This can cover everything from providing emergency accommodation, to finding a new home and looking at education options for children."