The Choice helpline was the first dedicated helpline in the country to give advice and assistance to anyone who may be suffering from Honour Based Violence or has been or may be forced into marriage. It was launched on the 16th November 2007 and now covers Cleveland, Northumbria and Durham police counties with all helpline staff trained in cultural awareness around Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage, to assist victims wherever they can.
Cleveland Police originally launched a helpline for victims of Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage and due to the response and demand for the service, nearby Northumbria and Durham police counties linked-up to also offer access to the helpline. However, they were faced with calls coming in to one police force and not being able to manage the call volumes when the other police forces were not busy and had capacity to help. This led to calls being diverted from one force to another depending on staff levels and the amount of incoming calls.
By providing an 0800 Number, it allowed Choice to manage calls more efficiently. Telecoms world offered 1 single number for the 3 police forces to advertise and for victims to use. The 0800 Number allowed the police forces to create a central call centre, where specially trained staff were on hand rather than distributed between the 3 forces.
By combing the helpline for the 3 forces has meant that calls are handled more quickly and efficiently by trained staff. They are able to better manage staff levels for their call centre accordingly at busy times and promote a single number for the 3 districts, combining their efforts and resources to offer a professional service.