Inspectors have highlighted the ‘significant focus’ placed on domestic violence by Norfolk’s’ Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett and noted his determination to improve services for victims.
A countrywide inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) on how police forces respond to cases of domestic abuse found that nationally the service is not good enough and must be improved. However, inspectors found the public in Norfolk can have confidence that, generally our police provide a good service to victims of domestic abuse and in doing so, help keep them safe.
Stephen said: “This report is both welcome and encouraging, but is also a reminder that we have more to do. The inspection team is absolutely right to highlight my personal determination to improve services for domestic abuse victims and I am working hard with police and partners to make this happen.
“Domestic abuse and sexual violence are priorities for me and I have set a clear direction for the force. The inspectors also stress that domestic abuse is a priority in the police and crime plan and I am adamant we will improve outcomes for victims, reduce vulnerability and improve support to victims.
“It is heartening to see the chief constable praised for demonstrating strong personal leadership and commitment in this area. I know that his commitment to improve services is shared throughout Norfolk Constabulary and I thank all those who have helped us become a leading force in this area.”
HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Eastern Region, Zoë Billingham said: “Domestic abuse is a clear priority for the force and this is understood by staff at all levels, who have received messages from the chief constable reinforcing this. There has been a significant focus on domestic abuse by the police and crime commissioner, who has recently appointed a member of staff who has responsibility for co-ordinating a countywide response to domestic abuse. The Police and Crime Plan also has a strong focus on domestic abuse.
“The force has a well-developed and effective response to victims of domestic abuse and staff work well with partners. The force has a well-established multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) which reviews all safety planning actions for victims and victim care for high risk cases. Having people from different organisations like councils and the police working together in the same office day in day out to help victims of domestic abuse is good practice.”
Chief Constable for Norfolk, Simon Bailey, welcomed the findings and said the report recognises the huge strides made by both police and partner agencies to tackle domestic abuse and provide wide-ranging support to victims. This includes the use of domestic abuse champions and perpetrator programmes such as ‘Caring Dads’ which targets male offenders.
“There has been a huge amount of investment in recent times in improving the response to domestic abuse in Norfolk with a view to keeping even more victims safe, preventing re-offending and bringing offenders to justice,” he said.
“Agencies, across the board, are working closer than ever before to identify and protect those who are vulnerable and we are pleased HMIC agree that generally our communities can have confidence in the service we provide.
“Nevertheless, we can always do more and we also know how hard it remains for many victims to come forward – I hope this news provides further reassurance that, if you report domestic abuse to police, we do listen and we can help.”
Figures show domestic abuse accounted for 9% of all crime recorded in the county in the 12 months to the end of August 2013, including offences such as assault, sexual offences and harassment. The force also recorded 3,837 assaults with injury, of these 1,307 were domestic abuse related. This is 34% of all assaults with injury. During this period, 84 arrests were made for every 100 domestic abuse crimes – comparing figures nationally of between 45 and 90.
In Norfolk, HMIC found that:
• Identifying victims – in Norfolk, staff are well trained in identifying domestic abuse and have a good understanding of risk assessment.
• Keeping victims safe – domestic abuse is a clear priority for Norfolk Constabulary with the chief constable demonstrating strong personal leadership and commitment to keeping victims of domestic abuse safe.
• Management of risk – there is good and effective partnership working to support and safeguard victims.
• Organisational effectiveness for keeping people safe – local officers are generally aware of domestic abuse victims in their area and they have good access to briefing material to improve their understanding, especially for high risk families whose safety will be discussed in daily and weekly tasking and performance meetings.
– A copy of the HMIC Domestic Abuse Inspection report can be found at www.hmic.gov.uk