Local businesses in Batley and Spen are being praised for their compassion and vigilance as staff members stepped up to protect potential victims of domestic abuse. The Batley and Spen Neighbourhood Policing Team expressed their delight at the positive response from store and bus employees, who actively participated in an operation to assess the support provided by Safe Zones in Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton.

This initiative was part of a broader effort in Kirklees during the national week starting on March 4, dedicated to raising awareness about violence against women. Undercover officers gauged the responsiveness of Safe Zone trained staff during the operation.

The operation involved an officer visiting Safe Zones in supermarkets in Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton to evaluate how staff would react if confronted by someone claiming to be a victim of domestic abuse in need of assistance. Remarkably, staff at the three supermarkets immediately ushered the officer to a secure location and promptly dialed 999 to alert the police.

Further, the officer boarded a bus and informed the driver that her partner was following her, having taken her money and phone. Without hesitation, the driver instructed the officer to board the bus, transporting her to the next station and dropping her off near a police van.

Safe Zones, designated areas where women or children can seek refuge if they feel they are being followed, have become crucial in providing temporary respite. These zones also offer the opportunity to charge phones and contact friends or family. With more than 240 such zones operating across Kirklees, staff members are trained to offer initial support to those seeking help.

In addition to this operation, Batley and Spen saw engagement events throughout the week aimed at spreading awareness about the support available to victims of domestic abuse. Inspector Charlotte Nicholls of the Batley and Spen NPT emphasized the challenges faced by victims, often controlled and isolated by their partners, making it difficult to reach out for help.

Inspector Charlotte Nicholls of the Batley and Spen NPT, said: “Victims of domestic violence are often controlled by their partner who isolate them from family and friends and their only outlet to reach out could be the supermarket they attend or a bus driver.

“The purpose of this operation, organised by PC Richard Terry, wasn’t to catch people out but to assess how are Safe Zones are operating and to see if we needed to offer extra support to businesses which house there very important spaces.

“We really are delighted by the exceptional response shown by staff in the supermarkets and on the Arriva bus service, when presented with people at risk .

“We fully realise it is not easy for victims to make that first call to the police, but this operation confirmed that there are always people who are there to help.”