Sussex Police has pledged its ongoing support to tackle domestic violence in the aftermath of a report which scrutinises the force’s performance in dealing with the issue.
A report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary was published on Thursday last week and the force was praised for its work.
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 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.
A police spokesperson said, “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. There were 7,018 offences to the end of August – the overall percentage of 43 per cent 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.”
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, stated her commitment to ensuring Sussex Police follows the recommendations set out in the report.
She said, “One of the recommendations is the need for better training for officers and staff. This will ensure that when officers respond to a domestic abuse incident they are supplied with as much information as possible to allow them to make a more accurate assessment of the level of risk to the victim.
“For example, control room staff should be able to advise if there have been previous reports of domestic abuse or if there are young children living at that address. Over the coming months I will be working with senior officers to ensure a more robust training is implemented as soon as possible.
“Investing in technology that assists officers attending incidents of domestic abuse is vital. I am already looking at different ways officers can secure evidence and share it effectively with the Crown Prosecution Service. Sussex Police has already invested in over 450 body worn video cameras and I am pleased that HMIC has recognised this as good practice.”