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Thames Valley Police providing better service to domestic violence victims

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Thames Valley Police have been highlighted as one of the better forces when it comes to dealing with domestic violence.

According to a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) released today Thames Valley Police was mentioned as one of the forces in the country which stood out for providing a better service to victims of domestic abuse.

The force was singled out in the report for its notably comprehensive training of officers and staff over the last two years on risk assessment, honour based violence, stalking, harassment and coercive control.

Nationally, thousands of domestic violence victims are being failed by police forces across England and Wales due to “alarming and unacceptable weaknesses” in the way cases are investigated, inspectors found.

The HMIC said only eight out of the 43 forces responded well to domestic abuse and the most vulnerable victims faced a “lottery” in the way their complaints were handled.

In Thames Valley, domestic abuse accounts for five percent of calls to the police for assistance. Of these calls, 43 per cent were from repeat victims and domestic abuse accounts for seven per cent of all recorded crime. Thames Valley recorded 8,119 assaults with injury, of these 2,686 were domestic abuse related. This is 33 per cent of all assaults with injury recorded for the 12 months to end of August 2013.

Thames Valley Police ACC John Campbell said: “We welcome the positive HMIC feedback and are pleased that the report acknowledges tackling domestic abuse is a priority for our force. Also, that our staff has a good understanding of what needs to be done to provide a good service to victims.

“Our specialist officers received praise for their work in the report, which says that victims who were at greatest risk of harm receive a more bespoke service. These officers regularly work together with dedicated victims’ advocates to offer specialist support guiding victims through what is often a very traumatic and emotional journey.

“It is also important that the good work of our front line officers to identify and risk assess victims particularly those at high risk, has been acknowledged in the report.”

A summary of the HMIC report relating to Thames Valley Police found:

* The public in the Thames Valley Police area can have confidence that generally the police provide a good service to victims of domestic abuse and help keep them safe.

* Tackling domestic abuse is a priority for the force and the police and crime commissioner (PCC). Staff have a good understanding of what they need to do to provide a good service to victims.

* Victims who are at greatest risk of harm receive a more bespoke service from specialist domestic abuse officers. However, there is more the force could do for victims assessed to be medium or standard risk.

* There are good examples of partnership working at force and local levels, but this still needs to be developed further. When multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASHs) are introduced later in 2014, these should help deliver improvements in joint working and information sharing.

Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said: “This is a positive report that demonstrates Thames Valley Police’s commitment to supporting victims of domestic abuse.

“Tackling domestic abuse is one of my own key priorities and I will continue to work closely with the police, local authorities and the Crown Prosecution Service to identify and support those at risk, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

ACC John Campbell added: “We acknowledge the areas for improvement and are already in the process of addressing the recommendations in the report. In particular, that high rate of domestic abuse arrests by Thames Valley Police needs improvement to convert to successful prosecutions resulting in convictions.

“We have focused our efforts into stronger investigations, preparing stronger case files and working with partner agencies to bring cases to trial quicker.”

Thames Valley Police’s campaign to tackle domestic abuse “Speak Out Today” addresses the issues of encouraging victims to report abuse to police safe in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously and provided protection.

Protecting Vulnerable People Det Ch Insp Amanda Blake said: “Thames Valley Police and our partners want to protect victims from abuse. We would actively encourage victims to come forward to receive the support they need and this is the core of our campaign Speak Out Today.”

To read the HMIC report visit http://www.hmic.gov.uk/publication/improving-the-police-response-to-domestic-abuse/

 

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