25.11.14 - DA Scrutiny Meeting following HMIC Inspection into Police Response to Domestic Abuse
PCC Sue Mountstevens, supported by a panel of experts including professionals, academics and survivors came together at Police Headquarters, to scrutinise the police response to domestic abuse following the HMIC Report: Everyone's Business, improving response to domestic abuse earlier this year. The aim of the meeting was to support the improvement of the police response to domestic abuse in Avon and Somerset, with an expert panel putting questions to the Constabulary and making recommendations.
Sue said: "When the HMIC published its report I was very clear that I did not want that to be the end on the focus while we move on and prepare for the next inspection. Since the inspection, the Constabulary have impressed me with their drive and determination to make progress.
"However, we know that we still have much to do; victims remain unable to seek support, offenders continue to abuse their partners, friends, families and neighbours continue to see abuse as a private matter and victim-blaming remains pervasive both in society and amongst professionals."
Panel members included representatives from colleges and universities, Local Safeguarding Board, CAADA, VOICES, Survive, Police and Crime Panel, Clinical Commissioning Group, Community Safety Partnership and Crown Prosecution Service as well as from the PCC's office.
As well as presentations from VOICES and Avon and Somerset Constabulary's Superintendents Rachel Williams and Carolyn Belafonte, and a roundtable discussion, the Panel scrutiny session centred around five key questions:
- How effectively are perpetrators of domestic abuse being tackled?
- Given the volume of domestic abuse, how do we truly make it everyone's business?
- What is a good outcome for a victim of domestic abuse?
- How does policing culture affect victim outcomes?
- How effective are current efforts to prevent domestic abuse?
Questions were also submitted by local people online during the event, which was live tweeted using the hashtag #DAScrutiny.
Notes from the meeting can be found here.
How have the Constabulary responded to tackling domestic abuse?
Following the HMIC inspection the Constabulary were advised of several recommendations to improving their response to domestic abuse. These included reworking specific terminology, quality assurance checks and creating a consistent allocation process for domestic abuse investigations.
Superintendent Rachel Williams said: "Domestic abuse is core police business and we are committed to tackling this crime from first response, to the investigation and the subsequent action to protect victims. Taking on board recommendations made by HMIC, in October we published our Domestic Abuse Action Plan. We will be updating the plan to show our progress as we continue to improve our response to domestic abuse."
What are some of the examples of work being carried out by the Constabulary?
- Raising awareness, developing understanding and encouraging people to report domestic abuse, feature heavily in key messages emitted by the Constabulary both in training processes and through internal and external communication channels www.thisisnotanexcuse.org microsite, developed by the Constabulary, aims to raise awareness of domestic abuse and signpost to organisations who can provide help and support. The site has received over 8,500 visits since its launch earlier this year.
- Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPNs) and Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) are another powerful tool that officers are now able to use to provide victims with immediate protection following a domestic incident.
- The recently launched Lighthouse victim and witness care programme is a pioneering approach in Avon and Somerset and aims to transform the way the police and criminal justice agencies deliver victims services. Lighthouse is committed to supporting individuals who are vulnerable, intimidated and persistently targeted and putting victims first, providing them the support they need, when they need it.