Cumbria Constabulary and SafeLives collaborate on enhanced domestic abuse investigations


Cumbria Constabulary, in collaboration with independent charity SafeLives and partner agencies are set to develop hundreds of officers and staff, with specialist training in areas of domestic abuse. These areas include the initial interaction with domestic abuse victims and perpetrators, understanding controlling and coercive behaviour, looking at the bigger picture of abuse, and enhancing investigations.

SafeLives, are a UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse.  Working with organisations across the UK to transform the response to domestic abuse.

The programme, titled DA Matters, was written and developed by  SafeLives and the College of Policing in response to HMIC (now HMICFRS) findings around police officers’ understanding of domestic abuse, and in particular, coercive control.

A number of other UK forces have already undertaken this successful programme.

The intensive training will support long-term cultural change with sustainable improvements and consistency in the response to domestic abuse.

The content will help the constabulary to better identify coercive control, challenge victim blaming, sensitively enquire for information on previous incidents and equip staff to recognise the high levels of manipulation used by perpetrators, including in interactions with law enforcement.

Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to:

  • Coercive and controlling behaviour
  • Financial or economic abuse
  • Harassment and stalking
  • ‘Honour’- based abuse and forced marriage
  • Online or digital abuse
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse

Anyone can be the victim of domestic abuse. On average a domestic abuse victim will experience 30 incidents of abuse before they make a first report to police. It is notoriously a hidden crime that can quickly escalate in severity.

The training provides officers and staff with the knowledge and tools needed to get a response and investigation right, first time, to best support and safeguard victims.

First Responder training is provided for staff and officers in frontline roles, where they are the first point of contact for a victim or perpetrator. This training will establish a robust, considered and consistent service that the public can reply on.

To provide continued learning and growth within the force, officers and staff identified as ‘Champions‘, will received further training. Their role is to monitor the quality of the constabulary’s response to domestic abuse reports and to raise any concerns at the earliest stage.

Chief officers will also receive training with a mandate to sustain the improvement in learned skills and to drive a continued culture change.

Superintendent Sally Blaiklock said,

“The opportunity to collaborate and learn from the team at SafeLives, will benefit officers, staff and the public alike.

“There is no place for domestic abuse in Cumbria. Putting an end to this devastating crime is a priority for the Constabulary. We are conducting a multitude of operations and research projects to further improve our response to all areas of domestic abuse – from securing Police STAR funding to better understand rural domestic abuse, to strategically monitoring high-level offenders through Operations Dacre, County and DART.

“DA Matters training is yet another advancement we are making, to provide the best service we can to victims and survivors in the community.

Bringing SafeLive’s experience to the Constabulary, in particular understanding cohesive and controlling behaviour, will enable us to provide a more considered and supportive response to domestic abuse survivors.

“This specialist training will give staff and officers the tools to provide a response that looks at the bigger picture, so that we can provide the right level of support and safeguarding from that vital initial report.

“Domestic abuse can affect anyone, there is no stereotype, and it is never the victim’s fault.  I want anyone out there who is suffering from domestic abuse to know that if they contact Cumbria Police, they will be taken seriously, and their report will be sensitively investigated by trained officers.

“Please do not suffer in silence. I know it is not easy to make that first report, but please contact us so we can help. If you cannot contact us, then please contact Victim Support, an independent charity who can provide confidential support with or without police involvement.

“Specialist support is available for victims and their families. Support is also available for perpetrators who want to stop their unacceptable behaviour.

“The most important thing is that you are supported, and there is a huge range of specialist support available for you right now.”

Suzanne Jacob, CEO of SafeLives, said,

“We are pleased to be working with Cumbria Police and our fantastic team of experienced associate trainers to deliver DA Matters, a cultural change programme created with survivors and designed to create long term, sustainable change.

“We know that Cumbria Police becoming an adopter force of DA Matters will be welcome news for victims and survivors of domestic abuse, as the programme is designed to increase awareness and understanding of coercive and controlling behaviour and create attitudinal change throughout the entire force. Enabling officers and staff to understand what a victims really needs at a certain point in time leads to better, more consistent service delivery and a feeling of being believed.

“Independent research carried out by Professor Iain Brennan shows the positive and sustained impact of the programme – DA Matters was associated with a 41 per cent increase in arrests for controlling and coercive behaviour for adopter forces compared to forces who have not yet adopted the programme.

“Victims and survivors of domestic abuse and police officers alike want to know that the criminal justice response to domestic abuse is as good as it can be. Cumbria Police adopting DA Matters is an important step towards that.”

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said,

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “The enhanced development for Police Officers on domestic abuse investigation and protecting victims can only be a good thing.

“Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime and can last for months, years and even decades, so it’s imperative that the Police do everything within their power to help those who have suffered domestic abuse get out of that situation.

“However; we all can play a part in ending domestic abuse in Cumbria by speaking out against it.

“Speaking to our family, friends, and colleagues about dangerous and inappropriate behaviours within relationships, what is acceptable in relationships, and reporting to the Police if you or someone you know has suffered from domestic abuse.

“I would urge everyone to report domestic abuse to the Police, but I understand that this isn’t an option for everyone which is why my office commissions services in Cumbria to help.

“There are three women’s centres in the county:

“These centres provide critical help to women across the county with specifically adapted and tailored services around the needs of local women, support groups and provide practical support for women who have been abused.

“The Bridgeway in Penrith can also help women who have been sexually assaulted.

“They offer medical examination and collection of forensic evidence, refer onto counselling and/or other support services, and can help make a report to the police, if that’s what the service user wants and can be contacted on 0808 118 6432 or”

“The message is clear: you are not alone – there are people who can help so please reach out.”

Support is available now, for anyone negatively effected by domestic abuse.

Getting Support

Victim Support offers free, confidential support for those affected by crime or traumatic events.
Phone: 0333 250 9854 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Victim Support also offer support services for those who want to change their negative behaviour to their partner.

Ask for ANI: If you are experiencing domestic abuse and need immediate help, ask for ‘ANI’ in a participating pharmacy. ‘ANI’ stands for Action Needed Immediately but also phonetically sounds like the name Annie. If a pharmacy has the ‘Ask for ANI’ logo on display, it means they’re ready to help. They will offer you a private space, provide a phone and ask if you need support from the police or other domestic abuse support services.

Report it

If you are worried that you or someone you know is suffering adult or elder abuse or neglect, please contact us immediately. We will investigate and ensure the person gets the best course of action to meet their needs.

This can be done by:

Remember to always call 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger.

If you have a hearing or speech impairment you can contact via the following:

  • Non-emergency: textphone service 18001 101.
  • Emergency: Register for the 999 Emergency SMS Service that allows you to text the police in an emergency from your mobile phone.

    This service works throughout the UK on all mobile networks, but it cannot be used from abroad.

    You must be registered to use this SMS service. Simply text ‘register’ from your mobile phone to 999 and follow the instructions. For more information visit

Or contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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