National Rural Crime Network

  • 13 July 2020

Captive & Controlled – One Year On: Challenging Attitudes & Changing Lives in Derbyshire

Derbyshire was one of the counties which took part in the 2019 research by the National Rural Crime Network and led to the Captive & Controlled report. For the first time, the differences between rural and urban domestic abuse were recognised in this way.  And so, as Derbyshire, with the exclusion of Derby City, is mostly rural this report was of particular interest.

By Emily Brailsford

This need for a rural focus on domestic abuse was highlighted because of the different challenges that victims living in rural areas face.  Derbyshire’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner considered this information carefully and decided to fund The Willow Project in February this year.

This meant that there was only a matter of weeks to start work on the project, before the whole country was shut down by Coronavirus.  Sadly this meant that domestic abuse was on the forefront of everyone’s minds.

So instead of gently easing into our role, we had to hit the ground running here at The Willow Project.

Our main focus is to raise awareness.  In normal circumstances this would be done by giving talks and presentations, visiting community groups and country shows.  But, because of lockdown we have had to change our plans and learn how to do all of this digitally.  We also plan to deliver training to various different groups of people such as vets and school safeguarding staff, once we are safely able to.

The last strand of the service is to recruit a team of ‘champions’, people within the community who will work to raise awareness around domestic abuse.

The Willow Project isn’t a frontline service and champions won’t deal directly with victims, except in an emergency.  What the project hopes to do, is to work closely with the amazing domestic abuse services we have here in Derbyshire, supporting them in raising awareness so that they can concentrate their time and their funding on working with victims.

Hosted by Rural Action Derbyshire, The Willow Project aims to raise awareness around the different challenges faced by victims of domestic abuse living in rural areas.

For more information on The Willow Project, please visit the website. Follow us on Twitter and FacebookLinkedIn. Or email Emily Brailsford, Project Officer at or call her on 07594 088858