Victims of domestic abuse urged to take up the available support

A new service offering support to victims of domestic abuse has been praised by Northumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 07 February, 2016, 14:55
Vera Baird, Donna Dickson and Hazel Bettison.

Vera Baird was speaking about Northumberland Domestic Abuse Services (NDAS), a replacement for Cease 24 which closed down last year after it ran out of funding.

“It’s excellent, it really is,” she told a meeting in Berwick.

The remodelled organisation will focus more closely on giving practical and emotional support people in Northumberland who have experienced domestic abuse at any time in their lives.

It has secured lottery and local authority funding, along with a cash boost of over £90,000 from Ms Baird’s Supporting Victims’ Fund.

The money has been used to fund two female domestic abuse practitioners so that more female victims can receive the help they need to cope and recover from the experience they have faced.

A third male domestic abuse practitioner has also being employed to assist male victims of domestic abuse.

There is not yet a children’s service but efforts are being made.

Donna Dickson from Berwick Community Trust is the ‘champion’ for the north of the county.

Ms Baird urged victims of domestic abuse to get in touch with the organisation.

“If you know, meet or suspect anyone to be suffering from domestic abuse then there is no reason not to offer help,” she said. “You can telephone Victims First Northumbria and they will refer you or they can call NDAS directly. The point of those champions is to be available.”

She also praised the efforts of Northumbria Police in tackling the issue.

“HMIC did an inspection 18 months ago and we were one of six police forces doing well,” she said. “In another report, in December, about domestic abuse they actively praised Northumbria Police for the way we tackle it.

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“All of those things make it easier for people to talk. Officers will investigate properly and never push it to one side and say ‘it’s a domestic’ and that they’re not getting involved.

“Northumbria Police works closely with NDAS so that if necessary there is extra support.”

Mayor of Berwick, Hazel Bettison, was chairman of the North Northumberland Domestic Violence Forum for 16 years.

She said: “A lot of people know that I was a victim but am now a survivor of domestic violence. We had Cease 24 which dealt with domestic violcence problems. Now we have NDAS. There is help out there. Donna Dickson is now working in this area and any issues should be signposted to her. It shouldn’t have to end up where someone is seriously hurt or there is a loss of life.”

Ms Baird welcomed news that overdue funding for victims services for the coming year has been allocated by the Ministry of Justice.

However, she expressed disappointment that the sums allocated are for one year only and, secondly, that it had not increased despite the rise in complaints about sexual exploitation and cyber crime.

“That said, we are glad to have the funding and that it has not been cut, which is a key relief,” she admitted.

Northumberland Domestic Abuse Services provide emotional and practical support to anyone who is currently, or has been, affected by domestic abuse living in the Northumberland area.

Domestic violence/abuse is not just about physical abuse from a partner. Domestic abuse is about someone in your family or household using their power to keep you under their control. They might do this by controlling your money, constantly checking up on you to see where you are, or deciding who you can or can’t see. Sometimes there is physical violence, but violence and abuse come in many forms, not just physical.

Berwick/Alnwick area is now covered by Donna Dickson, Domestic Abuse Practitioner. She also works for Berwick Community Trust.

Contact details: Donna 07867301279/01434608030 or Email:

In the event of an emergency, ring 999.