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Blunt knives offered to abuse victims

Image copyright Nottinghamshire Police
Image caption The knives are being offered “as part of a much wider range of measures”

A police force has defended a “ludicrous” decision to give domestic abuse victims blunt knives to replace sharp implements in their kitchens.

Nottinghamshire Police hopes the scheme will reduce the number of people being seriously injured by their partners.

The force stressed it was a “tiny trial” in one part of the county and part of wider protective measures.

The idea has attracted criticism and one psychologist said it could put victims in greater danger.

Image copyright Jessica Eaton
Image caption Dr Jessica Eaton is a psychologist specialising in interpersonal abuse and violence

Dr Jessica Eaton, a specialist in interpersonal abuse, said she initially thought the trial was a joke.

“If you are going to take knives, why not forks? Because I work with women who have been stabbed with forks,” she said.

“You could be attacked with anything. You could be attacked with a book. What about scissors? Everybody has got scissors.

“What do they think will happen when the perpetrator finds the knives and asks what happened to the normal ones? It undermines the perpetrator from a psychological point of view.

“It’s a huge red flag to them: ‘Who did you tell?’ It’s going to cause an argument. [The police have] not thought that through.”

Samantha Billingham, from the Survivors of Domestic Abuse support group, said perpetrators will still be able to seriously hurt victims using the knife.

She said abusers could use other household objects and she had been attacked with a kettle cord.

“I think it’s quite ludicrous. The blade of the knife is still there so that can cause significant harm to the victim. Abusers will use anything at all to inflict pain on their victim.

“I don’t think they’ve actually spoken to people who have been in that situation, because survivors can see dangers that maybe others don’t.”

Supt Matt McFarlane, the force’s new knife crime strategy manager, said some of the critics had “got the whole idea wrong”.

“It’s a very small trial, and it will always be part of a much wider range of measures that we are doing to safeguard and protect that victim,” he said.

“We will simply have these as an offer to somebody in appropriate circumstances and they can have them if they think they want them.

“We can debate something theoretically or from a psychological perspective all day long. Sometimes you need to try something and see if it works or not.”

The force has bought 100 knives and these have already been offered to victims, but the force has not yet “assessed how many have taken them up”.

“We will assess the number that have been given at the end of the year and assess if we continue,” said Supt McFarlane.

Image copyright Nottinghamshire Police
Image caption Nottinghamshire Police has bought 100 of the knives

Retired judge Nic Madge said the trial “could save lives”.

“Most violent offences are committed on the spur of the moment,” he said. “People pick up the closest thing they can find, and in the kitchen, the closest thing they find is often a pointed kitchen knife.”

One domestic abuse survivor told the Nottingham Post the idea was “100% positive”.

Fiona McCulloch told the newspaper: “To have a blunt knife in my situation, it would have taken that risk away. It is like you are taking away their options and the more you can take away, the better.”

Nottinghamshire Police works with Women’s Aid to help domestic abuse victims but the charity did not wish to comment when contacted by the BBC.

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Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-48609164

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