Victims of domestic abuse in Suffolk can have confidence in the service they receive from police, according to a report published today.
The national review by police watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) says domestic abuse is an ‘important priority’ for police in the county and that ‘staff demonstrate a high level of commitment and awareness’.
Within the report Suffolk Constabulary was singled out as one of the forces across the country that showed a high performance when it came to handling reports of domestic abuse.
Assistant Chief Constable David Skevington welcomed the findings and outlined the commitment that Suffolk Police have to working with partner agencies and continue to make improvements in dealing with domestic abuse, he said: “We are really encouraged by the findings of the HMIC report, and hope that this will give victims of domestic abuse the confidence to come forward and report incidents to us.
“Whilst we are pleased with the HMIC’s findings we continuously look at how we can improve the service we provide and how we build the confidence of those suffering abuse to come forward and speak to us. We recognise this can be a very difficult decision.
“The report recognised that we understand the importance of ensuring from the very first point of contact a victim has with police, that they receive the correct and appropriate level of service. The risk to the victim is assessed to ensure we respond accordingly to reduce the risk of harm to the individual.
“We know that dealing effectively with domestic abuse requires a concerted multi-agency approach.
“Suffolk has a strong county partnership where organisations from the voluntary and statutory sectors come together regularly to improve the services across Suffolk.
“Public confidence in policing is vitally important and to receive a report that states that the public should be confident in the way that Suffolk police deal with domestic abuse is a credit to our staff and their hard work and commitment to deliver the best service and keeping people in Suffolk safe.”
The HMIC report follows an inspection of Suffolk Constabulary’s response to domestic abuse.
Figures show that, in the 12 months to the end of August 2013, Suffolk recorded 2861 domestic abuse related crimes which accounted for 7% of all crime recorded in the county. During this period, 75 arrests were made for every 100 domestic abuse crimes compared to figures nationally of between 45 and 90.
The report recognised that staff in the control room are ‘competent, confident and empathetic in dealing with domestic abuse victims’ and that they are trained in order to assess risk and send the right level of police response.
All domestic abuse calls are given priority response and will either be attended as an emergency or within an hour depending of the threat of harm to the victim.
Additionally officers receive domestic abuse risk assessment training and some have had additional training, covering coercive control, stalking, harassment and honour-based violence and all domestic abuse crime investigations are reviewed by a detective sergeant, prior to being closed, to make sure that all available evidence has been collected.
The inspection team also highlighted that the Police and Crime Commissioner is keen to improve services for domestic abuse victims, specifically mentioning that the PCC is working with partner agencies to increase the number of independent domestic abuse advisors (IDVAs) in the county.
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “The extent and nature of domestic abuse in the county really shocks me, it is a huge problem but one I am determined to address.
“I am very pleased that this report recognises that Suffolk Constabulary provides a good service to victims of domestic abuse, and in doing so, helps to keep them safe. We now need to build on this excellent work to reduce the number of repeat victims.
“The report highlighted the lack of independent domestic abuse advisors (IDVAs) in the county. This is quite unacceptable and is being addressed immediately. I am working with partner agencies to increase the number of IDVAs in Suffolk and this was welcomed by HMIC.
“It is crucially important that we do all we can to prevent this terrible crime as well as support the very vulnerable victims and this is a key part of my Police and Crime Plan. I have allocated funding to domestic violence organisations across the county and will continue to do all I can to support this valuable and important work.
He added, “We also need to recognise the very traumatic effect domestic abuse can have on children.”
During a recent ACPO led week of action Suffolk highlighted the work that is carried out with partner agencies in order to raise awareness of domestic abuse and protect potential victims.
Regular multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARAC) see agencies, including police, probation, social services, health and welfare services, working together to share information, risk assess all cases and put a range of support in place for victims.
A domestic abuse leaflet was also recently produced which outlines what domestic abuse is and highlights local and national services that help and support sufferers, aimed at encouraging.
To report domestic abuse call police on 101 or 999 in case of an emergency or call the 24/7 National Domestic Abuse & Refuse Helpline 0808 2000 247.