LCH and Merseyside Police on a mission to Macedonia

Experts from SAFE Place and Merseyside Police were invited to Skopje in Macedonia to deliver training to professionals on how to successfully support victims of sexual assault and hate crime.

Shelly Stoops, Service Manager for SAFE Place and Chief Superintendent, Tim Keelan from Merseyside Police visited the Macedonian Police Force and Healthy Options Project Skopje (HOPS) Outreach Team to provide training based on the successful partnership model developed here in Merseyside.

Run by Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust and Merseyside Police, SAFE Place is Merseyside’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre, offering free and confidential support and advice to anyone affected by sexual violence, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The service has been widely recognised as an example of best practice in Europe.

Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, currently has a very high rate of sexual assaults, child sex exploitation and attacks against sex workers, and the Macedonian Police are keen to improve interventions by learning from the Merseyside model.

As well as delivering training to the HOPS Project Outreach Workers in Skopje, the team from Merseyside were also invited to shadow the HOPS Team in action to experience how they deliver outreach services to vulnerable sex workers and drug users in Skopje and suggest improvements.

Shelly Stoops, Safe Place Manager, Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust commented:

“Travelling to Macedonia to share our knowledge and experience on how we have improved safety and support for sex workers here in Liverpool by closely partnering with the Police, was a great privilege.”

“I think the team benefitted greatly from hearing from our experiences, and from hearing our advice after shadowing their outreach team too.”

“It’s reassuring to know that our presence made a positive impact on the sex workers and the teams working with them in Skopje, and we hope to keep in touch with our colleagues in HOPS in the future in order to support continual improvement too.”

Detective Superintendent, Tim Keelan added:

“Merseyside Police is engaged in a number of really effective partnership initiatives, designed to address the complex issues relating to sexual assault. The force has been working very closely with Safe Place Merseyside and this partnership has been recognised as best practice nationally.”

“It was a real privilege to travel with a representative of Safe Place to Macedonia to work with the police and health outreach projects there, who were very keen to learn about our work in Merseyside, and how it has benefitted some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

“Our hope is that those involved with the training programme in Macedonia will be able to seize the same opportunities that we have on Merseyside, and see real progress. It is only through working in true partnerships that the protection and safety of those most in need can be enhanced.”

If you have been the victim of sexual assault, you can access SAFE Place Merseyside for free and confidential help and advice, with or without Police involvement. You can contact SAFE Place directly by calling 0151 295 3550. The service is open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Or for more information, visit:


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