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Force praised by HMIC for tackling domestic abuse

15th December 2015

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has welcomed the findings of a new HMIC report which shows that our local force is a leader in tackling domestic abuse and protecting victims.

In March 2014, HMIC published a report, ‘Everyone’s Business’, which found significant weaknesses in the service provided to victims of domestic abuse by police forces nationally.

Northumbria Police was one of only eight forces then doing well in relation to dealing with domestic abuse and domestic abuse victims.

The findings of a force by force follow up inspection, published today, show that police services across England and Wales have responded to ‘Everyone’s Business’ and now see tackling domestic abuse as an important priority  – although the report still identifies significant weaknesses in a number of geographical areas.

Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird said: “It’s positive to see that most police forces have improved in how they deal with domestic abuse and are getting better at supporting the victims of this very damaging crime.

“In Northumbria it is a priority and I’m really pleased that the HMIC have acknowledged some of our work.

“We have some unique and ground breaking initiatives in place, like the DVSA cars, featured last night on BBC News at Ten where an experienced domestic abuse worker goes out with the police to every 999 call about abuse, at peak times. That way we get speedy help expert help to victims as early as possible. This is simple, not costly and yet 90% of victims who are visited by our experts get in touch again for help to escape from or manage the abuse. It is making a difference to the lives of victims and their children and is work that officers, staff and partners can be very proud of.

“Domestic abuse will remain a priority for Northumbria Police and it’s important that any victim of domestic abuse and violence knows there is help and support for them whenever they choose to seek it.

The HMIC report highlights some key areas where Northumbria Police are leading the way with partners:-

Space, time and support – The report praises the force’s use of Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs). Northumbria is one of the forces making the most, and best, use of DVPOs according to the HMIC report. DVPOs ban a perpetrator with immediate effect from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days, allowing the victim time to consider their options and allow them to get the support they need.

Partnership working to protect victims – Northumbria runs an initiative where Domestic Violence Support Advisors (DVSAs) accompany police officers on patrol to ensure that appropriate support is given to victims at the earliest opportunity  The combination of having specialist support workers who can listen to the victim and provide support at the point of crisis, working alongside police officers who can take action against perpetrators, is of great benefit to both victims and the police service.

Bringing offenders to justice – Northumbria Police has the highest charge rate of those arrested in connection with domestic abuse at 51%. The national average for the 12 months to March 2015 is 27% which shows how committed the force is to bringing offenders to justice and that victims can rely on officers to take them seriously.

Listening to victims and always looking to improve – Northumbria Police has conducted various surveys to find out the views of victims of domestic abuse. This is now shaping how and what services are being provided, and has improved the way the force identifies and manages serial perpetrators of domestic abuse in partnership with other agencies.

Local input at a national level – Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird plays a vital part in helping to shape the policing service’s response to tackling domestic abuse. She is a member of HMIC’s Domestic Abuse Reference Group and of the Home Secretary’s National Oversight Group for Domestic Abuse Her input has insured the excellent work being carried out in Northumbria is flagged up at a national level and shared with all of the other police forces and agencies across the country.