Safe Place Launch

22 February, 2011
Justice Minister encourages a ‘Safe Place’ for victims of domestic abuse
Justice Minister David Ford, urged attendees at a launch event in Parliament Buildings to consider providing a ‘Safe Place’ for victims of domestic abuse. 
‘Safe Place’ is a recently developed initiative by Women’s Aid ABCLN and Onus, a social economy business, to raise awareness in the community that there are a wide range of services available for victims of domestic abuse. 
The Police Service of Northern Ireland will be amongst the first to implement the Safe Place initiative, just one of the proactive approaches taken by the Police. According to a recent Policing Board report, PSNI respond to an incident of domestic abuse on average every 21 minutes of every day*. 
The Police Service were also presented with a Gold Workplace Charter by Justice Minister David Ford, in recognition of their workplace policy and training in supporting victims of domestic abuse, including PSNI employees. 
Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said:  “The Police Service takes the issue of domestic abuse very seriously. Unfortunately it is still an under-reported crime with victims often sustaining prolonged episodes of violence or abuse before taking action against the perpetrator. We will continue to play an active role in tackling this crime
“To receive the Gold workplace Charter Award is extremely significant for the Police Service. Over the past number of years we have been working with Women’s Aid and many other external agencies to develop new initiatives and methods on how we deal with people who have been victims of domestic abuse. The Police Service introduced a number of new policies including a workplace policy and a policy on how officers should respond when dealing with domestic abuse incidents.   
“It is vitally important that people are aware they no longer have to endure abuse, that there is support for them and a means through the law to address the situation they are in.”
Justice Minister David Ford’s South Antrim constituency office is another ‘Safe Place’. He said:
“I fully support the Safe Place initiative and would encourage other organisations to work with Women’s Aid to raise awareness of the services available to victims of domestic violence. I know that victims are often concerned about seeking help and may not know where to turn. I hope this initiative will let them know that they don’t have to suffer in silence and that there are a wide range of services available to them.
“Government is committed to tackling this terrible crime and considerable progress has been made through the Tackling Violence at Home Strategy and I will continue to play my full part in its implementation. 
“But tackling domestic violence is an issue for everyone in society. Safe Place will therefore help break the silence that often exists within organisations regarding how they tackle domestic violence so they have confidence in providing an effective response to any victim who reaches out for help.”
Colette Stewart, of Onus outlined the benefits of becoming a Safe Place:
‘Many people may be unaware that there are services to help them leave an abusive relationship. The Safe Place logo is reassurance for any victim that there is support available. We are delighted that the initiative has been so well received – an acknowledgement, we believe, that the message that domestic abuse is never acceptable is endorsed throughout our community’. 
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For further information contact Lindsay Harris, Policy Worker: 07599 311 355 or email: