Helen Nelder has teamed up with Frank Mullane of Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse (AAFDA) to deliver a structured, half-day programme of training for front line police officers, supervisors, custody sergeants, call handlers, PCSOs and police staff.
Both Frank and Helen have been providing domestic abuse education and training for police forces around the country for a number of years. Their joint programme was launched in association with Hampshire Police, and the wealth of positive testimonials that have been received from participants indicates that the training is extremely effective in reaching its target audience.
Training is divided into 3 x 1 hour sessions and comprises a mix of presentations and interactive exercises. The standard format is suitable for up to 80 participants, but can be modified to suit other requirements. After the structured training is complete both Helen and Frank are generally available to stay on and answer questions.
With the aid of video clips of her acclaimed play, w@rn, Helen presents a powerful and articulate analysis of her own experience of surviving an abusive relationship. With a view to refining and raising policing standards, Helen invites officers to consider what it is like to be a victim in a place of supposed safety – your own home.
Frank gives a personal account of the tragic case of domestic abuse that affected his family, which resulted in two murders and a suicide. Highlighting the failures for which the Pemberton Homicide Review strongly criticised the police force concerned, Frank also talks about other cases and poses a number of challenges to police officers, in a hard-hitting but balanced presentation.
Participants are divided into smaller groups and Helen and Frank combine to run interactive exercises using a variety of stimulus materials. Groups discuss different subjects relating to domestic abuse and present their conclusions to the entire audience. It is highly recommended that a chief officer attends to discuss policing issues and queries that arise for officers as a result of the presentations – it shows how seriously the subject is being taken and contributes to the high impact and relevance of the training for all involved.
The following comments were made by police officers after attending previous training sessions:
“I just wanted to say how deeply you affected me as a person (and I know I cannot have been the only one). I realise that I joined to make a difference. The work you did today was hands down the best training I have had in 17 years of service. To have you speak of real experiences like this was more powerful than you can imagine.”
“Guest speakers Frank and Helen were brilliant. The day reminded me why we do this job and I felt very proud to be an officer again.”
“I know the interaction we had with you will absolutely prevent serious harm to some domestic violence victims. One bit of 'training' that was so compelling it will remain with me throughout the rest of my career.”
“It is a fantastic package to be able to take to people.”
“Training or 'presentation' does not do justice to what you brought to us. It was a really fantastic motivational interaction and dialogue about a hugely important area of our business.”
“You really drew us back to what policing is all about.”
“It was brilliant to get us talking more about domestic violence. We have had domestic violence training before but for me this wasn't about what we learnt, it was about what we 'felt' and that is far more powerful.”
“I found having real victims talking about their experiences hard hitting yet welcomely refreshing compared to the death by PowerPoint 'lesson' style training we normally get.”
Helen Nelder is a theatrical writer whose acclaimed play, w@rn, is a moving and gritty exploration of middle class domestic abuse. Helen has been raising awareness of domestic abuse issues as a speaker since the play's first performance in 2000. Based on meticulous research and personal experience, both w@rn and the w@rn DVD Training Pack have been used extensively in training, nationally and abroad.
Frank Mullane combines personal experience of domestic abuse with the knowledge acquired from studying the subject intensively over the last six years. Frank runs the charity AAFDA, is a member of the government's Victims' Advisory Panel and is separately advising the Home Office on the homicide review model, particularly around family involvement.