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Norfolk and Suffolk launch online chat portal for victims

An online live chat service has been launched for victims of crime in a joint initiative by two forces.

Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies have used the COVID-19 outbreak to start a 24-hour live chat service backed with an online support portal providing advice, access to counselling and even a recovery tool to support people suffering from trauma.

The joint project, delivered with Victim Support, is further embracing video technology at a time when the public are open to using online video calls and smart phone apps as a way of staying in contact with work and families.

Funding to develop the service has come from the Ministry of Justice as part of its wider objective of increasing the use of digital tools to improve outcomes.

Top priority for the two forces are people who are vulnerable to abuse from their partners or other family members.

Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green, said: “This new 24/7 live chat service and the online resources offer another way for victims of crime in Norfolk to access help and support. They complement and enhance the services already being provided by the Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care team and other local organisations, giving victims another route to help.

“While the live chat service is there for anybody who feels they need help, it will undoubtedly be of particular benefit to those needing a discrete, immediate option at any time of the day or night – such as those experiencing or at risk of abuse during this period of isolation.”

Data shared by the National Police Chiefs’ Council has shown no change in reporting of domestic violence but forces are concerned that this is due to a fear among victims that they will not be supported due to the lockdown.

Chief Executive of Victim Support, Diana Fawcett, said: “Our message to victims is very clear. Our trained supporters are here to offer you free and confidential support. It doesn’t matter where you live, what type of crime you have experienced, when it happened, whether you want support in the day or at night, or if you have reported the crime to the police. Victim Support is here to support you."

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