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Report recognises support Northumbria Police gives to victims of domestic abuse

14 Nov 2017 15:00 PM

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INITIATIVES by Northumbria Police to support victims of domestic abuse have been recognised in a national report.

The Force’s proactive approach with independent domestic violence workers accompanying officers on patrol is highlighted in the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), published today (Tuesday).

The ‘progress report on the police response to domestic abuse’ further recognises the important role Northumbria Police gives to officers outside specialist units, including those in neighbourhood policing teams, in supporting victims.

It also shows the Force is above the national average for the number of arrests and charges brought for domestic abuse-related offences.

While the report acknowledges that ‘considerable improvements’ have been made nationally, it states there is still ‘room for improvement’. It makes a number of recommendations, including around the recording of such crimes and increasing positive action against offenders.

A great deal of work is already under way to make improvements, with Northumbria Police at the forefront of a multi-force transformation project which aims to provide a better service to victims and bring agencies together to offer support from the first point of contact.

The initiative, led by Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC, involves six forces and saw Northumbria spearheading the successful application for funding resulting in around £18million of investment from the Home Office. The project, currently in its second of a three-year programme, may prove to be a template for how this crime should be  tackled by police and partner agencies nationwide.

Det Chief Supt Scott Hall, who heads Northumbria Police’s safeguarding unit, said: “I am pleased to see this latest report into domestic abuse recognises a number of key ways Northumbria Police supports victims.

“However, like forces nationally, we still have improvements to make and therefore welcome the recommendations put forward. I would like to reassure the public that much progress has already been made.

“We are committed to providing victims of domestic abuse with the very best service we can. The Violence Against Women and Girls strategy we have adopted is a prime example of this and sets very clear prioritise to help protect these members of our society.

“We also recognise that men too are victims of this type of offence and it is important we do all we can to ensure everyone feels they are able to come forward.”

Commissioner Baird has made tackling domestic abuse a key priority in her Police and Crime Plan.

She said: “There are lots of clear positives to today’s report and I welcome its findings. At a national level forces are continuing to improve their response to domestic abuse and are doing so with commitment and energy. It’s also clear that victims are continuing to speak out and forces are more accurately recording crimes of this nature.

"I’m equally pleased to see that HMICFRS have acknowledged some of our key initiatives and innovations such as our collaboration with independent domestic violence advisors, who accompany officers on patrol. We are also leading the way nationally through our neighbourhood policing teams' involvement in domestic violence plans and their proactive contact with victims to offer advice and practical support has equally been noted by the Inspectorate.”

She added: “The report also makes it clear that there is more to be done across the UK, from the way in which performance is recorded to the consistency of the service victims receive. I will work closely with the Chief Constable and our partners to ensure issues identified nationally are dealt with here in Northumbria. 

“It is however of great concern that the Inspectorate has found some forces to be downgrading the severity of calls from victims and downgrading the assessment of risk they face. It is essential that victims are front and centre of our activity and that their needs are properly identified to provide them with the support they deserve."

The report, which uses data from 2016, also highlights an increase in the number of crimes recorded with domestic abuse as an element.

Det Chief Sup Hall added: “Part of this increase reflects our proactive approach in encouraging victims to come forward and them having confidence in the way we will deal with their case.”

Data for the 12 months ending August 2017 shows 94 per cent of victims were satisfied with the overall experience provided by the Force.

Anyone who believes they are a victim of domestic abuse is encouraged to contact the police on the 101 number. Always dial 999 in an emergency.

Support and advice is also available online at www.northumbriapolice.co.uk and by clicking on the ‘victims and witnesses’ icon.