Campaign launched to get hairdressers spotting signs of domestic abuse

Annie Reilly, Kerri's hairdresser, spoke at last nights event to a crowd of hairdressers and beauticians in Northampton to warn them how to spot domestic abuse among their customers.
Annie Reilly, Kerri's hairdresser, spoke at last nights event to a crowd of hairdressers and beauticians in Northampton to warn them how to spot domestic abuse among their customers.

Northamptonshire Police has launched a campaign called #CutItOut, aimed at hair and beauty workers, to tackle domestic abuse.

The project was launched yesterday (Monday, November 25) to coincide with International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Assistant Chief Constable James Andronov, with hairdresser Annie Reilly, and Kerri's mum Lesley McAuley.

Assistant Chief Constable James Andronov, with hairdresser Annie Reilly, and Kerri's mum Lesley McAuley.

Its aim is to raise awareness and train salon professionals to recognise the warning signs of domestic abuse and safely refer clients to organisations that can help them.

The #CutItOut brand originated in Norwich following a tragic murder. In 2017, weeks after confiding in her hairdresser Annie Reilly, Kerri McAuley was killed by an abusive partner. As a result of this, the campaign, which has since seen success in Rochdale too, was developed.

The launch is the first training event for more than 160 of Northampton’s hair and beauty professionals and further events will take place across the county over the coming months.

Annie Reilly, who was at the launch, spoke of her guilt for not going to the authorities after Kerri confided in her as she did her hair. She said: “One day when she came to an appointment she talked about her boyfriend and said 'I know he’s going to kill me'. They were words I never thought I’d hear any of my clients say.

The room at the Hilton Hotel in Collingtree was packed last night with beauticians and hairdressers from around the county.

The room at the Hilton Hotel in Collingtree was packed last night with beauticians and hairdressers from around the county.

“Should I have phoned the police? Yes, of course I should have done – but I didn’t know they were words that were meant. I just thought it was a statement, a figure of speech.

“Every day I think about her and about what I could have done and what difference it could have made. I’m passionate about this campaign because as hairdressers, many of our clients will confide in us and we need to be equipped with the right information so we can help them in the best way we can.”

The campaign is being funded by Northamptonshire’s Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and Northamptonshire Police.

Hairdressers will be trained to spot the signs of domestic abuse, particularly the more subtle elements of coercion and control.

They will then be given advice on how to support clients, what to say, what to avoid saying, and what other support is available locally and nationally. Hopefully this will enable hairdressers to support their clients, and provide them with options where possible.

Chief Inspector Julie Mead, who is the force lead for adult safeguarding, said: “The relationship between these professionals and their clients and co-workers is often close and intimate and they may well be able to spot signs of physical abuse that others might not see.

“They are also skilled and experienced listeners, personally interested in the lives of those around them. Their clients tend to feel comfortable talking to them and potentially confiding in them about domestic abuse, even if they would never tell anyone else. They really can be valuable and influential in the fight against domestic abuse.

“People are more likely to talk to someone they trust about abuse rather than report it to the police. The salon may be the ideal place to seek help as it could be one of the few places their abuser will allow them to go, or go without them.

“We want to offer these professionals training on how to be confident in spotting the signs of abuse and how to refer people to get help. We’re going to be running a 12-month, countywide roadshow to make this happen.”

Salon professionals who would like to know more can contact CutItOut@northants.pnn.police.uk

If you are concerned about a friend, relative or colleague, or are suffering from domestic abuse, the following contact numbers could help you.

Voice Northants - Tel: 0300 303 1965, Sunflower Centre - Tel: 01604 888211, Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Service - Tel: 0300 012 0154