Sussex Police has welcomed publication of a report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) which scrutinises the force’s performance in dealing with domestic abuse.
Superintendent Paul Furnell, of the Specialist Crime Command, said: “Dealing with domestic abuse is a top priority for Sussex Police, so we welcome HMIC’s praise for our commitment in tackling the issue and accept its recommendations on ways in which we can improve our service even further.
“We particularly welcome HMIC’s acknowledgement that Sussex is the first police force in the country to achieve White Ribbon status. White Ribbon UK is an international organisation working to involve men in opposing violence and abuse against women.”
The report highlights the good level of commitment by the force in keeping victims of domestic abuse safe and awareness of the importance of doing so. It also makes clear that the force has developed very strong links with partner agencies . However, the HMIC report makes it clear that a more streamlined approach to victim care must be developed and they should not be dealt with by police and partner agencies individually. We welcome the feedback and will work to ensure a joined up approach is developed and strengthened.
However, never to be complacent, the force accepts that there are areas for further improvement, including training and awareness of officers and staff, better use of communications technology to update responding officers, improving procedures for assessing cases and an extra focus on victim safety alongside the prosecution of offenders.
The report refers to data showing that, as at the end of August last year, for every 100 domestic abuse incident calls in Sussex, 55 resulted in arrest. Supt Furnell said: “It will always be an officer’s decision as to whether or not to arrest a suspect and we expect our staff to take positive action at every domestic incident, considering the incident as a whole and reassuring the victim that every step will be taken to ensure a positive outcome for them.”
There were 7018 offences to the end of August - the overall percentage of 43% resulting in criminal justice sanction, whether by charge, caution or other action, compares well with other forces.
Supt Furnell said: “Thanks in large part to the HMIC inspection we already have work underway to address the communications issue, to work at ways of streamlining procedures and to continue to develop our focus and approach on victim safety.
“Domestic abuse is one of the most sensitive and challenging issues that police and partners have to tackle.We agree that even more can be done and our officers take pride in doing so in a professional and compassionate way.”
Supt Furnell said: “There are also two imminent developments which will help us make our service more effective.
“First, we are planning to integrate our existing Adult and Child Protection teams into units which will also specialise in the investigation of all cases of rape and serious sexual assault. Most importantly, we aim to increase a trend already in place, to locate these teams with local authority teams to maximise safeguarding, investigations and information sharing.
“In addition, we look forward to the national introduction of Domestic Violence Protection Notices this summer, which combined with the recent introduction of Claire’s Law further strengthens legislation against abusers. Now for the first time we will be able to take legal action with the support of the courts, to impose conditions on someone’s behaviour, as we already can with sex offenders and serious organised crime.”
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