ESSEX Police has changed the way it deals with calls about domestic abuse incidents after speaking with victims.

The force has been meeting with the men and women to find out more about the service they received and how it could be improved.

It comes just three days after the Southend Community Safety Partnership revealed numerous failings by Essex Police in the lead up to the death of 47-year-old Jeanette Goodwin at the hands of her ex-partner Martin Bunch, 44, on Quebec Avenue, Southend, on July 24, 2011.

Claire Heath, head of customer service for the force, said: "What we wanted to find out was what worked well, how police involvement made victims feel and how we, and our partners in Essex, could improve.

"It has been very much about giving victims a voice in the way we approach domestic abuse incidents so we can tailor our response accordingly.

"We wanted to learn and understand how we can improve their confidence in us as a service and how we can shape future services to give them the support that they need from the first point of contact right through to the end of the court process, if necessary.”

One of the outcomes of the work so far has been changes to the way domestic abuse victims can now contact the force.

There is now a special Freephone Domestic Abuse telephone number for victims to call on 0800 358 0351.

Mrs Heath said: "Many victims had asked for a Freephone number to call so that if they want to get updates on the progress of their case they could do so without any cost. This number offers an alternative for those suffering from domestic abuse to make contact with Essex Police.”

The force had also changed the way it handles calls to make sure that victims are not asked unnecessary questions when they make contact.