Domestic Abuse Action Plan

Humberside Police is committed to preventing and bringing to justice perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse. The force deals with victims without prejudice and in confidence.

In Humberside, officers take domestic violence very seriously and will deal positively and promptly with any incident we attend.  We work alongside highly trained non-police advisors who can assist with safety planning and aftercare for you and your family.

If your situation is an emergency call 999 and an officer will attend and if possible arrest the perpetrator and take action to protect you from further abuse.

If safe to do so you can attend any police station in person, ask a friend or relative to act on your behalf or call the non-emergency number which is 101.  Alternatively you can report domestic abuse and violence via local Domestic Abuse Partnerships or seek advice from a number of local and national charities Click here for contact details and more on domestic abuse.

Background

In September 2013, the Home Secretary commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to conduct an inspection to ascertain;

The effectiveness of the police approach to domestic violence and abuse, focusing on the outcomes for victims;
Whether risks to victims of domestic violence and abuse are adequately managed;
Identifying lessons learnt from how the police approach domestic violence and abuse

In addition HMIC were tasked with making any necessary recommendations in relation to these findings when considered alongside current practice.

To answer these questions, HMIC collected data and reviewed files from the 43 Home Office funded police forces.  They spoke to 70 victims of domestic abuse in focus groups throughout England and Wales and surveyed over 100 victims online; they also surveyed 200 professionals working with victims of domestic abuse.

All police forces in England and Wales were inspected, interviewing senior and operational leads in forces, holding focus groups with frontline staff and partners, and carrying out visits to police stations (which were unannounced) to test the reality of each force’s approach with frontline officers.

These inspection teams were supplemented by expert peers, which included public protection experts from over 15 forces and those working with victims of domestic abuse in voluntary and community sector organisations.

The following recommendations were made in response to what HMIC found in Humberside Police.

Front enquiry staff and those working within the incident handling units (IHUs) would benefit from training and awareness to help them identify domestic abuse in its various forms and understand the information held on various computer systems in the force.

A domestic abuse training package has now been completed by all front enquiry officers which is aimed at raising the awareness of domestic abuse and providing staff with an understanding of risk and safeguarding; additionally a review of training within the IHU is underway in line with the implementation of the new Force operating model.  Domestic abuse posters and leaflets will be displayed in every front enquiry office and staff will be tasked with maintaining and updating these.

Information about the nature and history of a domestic abuse call should always be provided to first responders by IHU staff.

A review of the information checks completed by call handlers in the IHU is to be undertaken and guidance is to be issued regarding the use of the Domestic Violence Register and the Child Protection database (CATS).  The new force operating model will utilise the THRIVE (Threat, Harm, Risk, Investigation, Vulnerability, Engagement) risk assessment process to assess the most appropriate response to calls for service and it is recognised that for this process to be effective, far greater information needs to be considered at the point of first contact and that this information should be communicated to first responders.

While the PCC has clearly made domestic abuse a priority for the force, it needs to ensure that a single process throughout the four local authority areas operates to the benefit of victims in Humberside.

In April 2015, Humberside Police will move to a new operating model which will remove artificial geographical boundaries and allow the force to manage demand more efficiently by sending the most appropriate resource out to victims at the earliest opportunity.

The Protecting Vulnerable People Unit (PVPU) became a centrally managed force resource in April 2014 and is working towards ensuring that resources are appropriately aligned to meet demand and that the systems and processes are consistent across the whole of the Humberside policing area, irrespective of which local authority partners are involved; these changes will see a more consistent service being delivered to victims across Northern Lincolnshire, Hull and the East Riding.  These changes will provide consistency across the force and an improved service to victims and partner agencies. 

The Humberside Criminal Justice Board Domestic Violence Sub-Group provides a forum for the Police and partners from across all four local authority areas to meet together every 8 weeks and discuss any issues and share best practice.  This forum provides an opportunity for a single working process to benefit all victims.

Divisional intelligence bureau (DIBs) need to support the priority of domestic abuse in addition to their work currently focused on volume crime like shoplifting.

The Force Strategic Threat and Risk Assessment includes an analysis of Domestic Abuse and makes recommendations to improve service delivery.  In addition Divisional Intelligence Bureaus (DIBs) currently work alongside the specialist Domestic Violence Coordinators to identify and highlight those people who are particularly vulnerable to domestic abuse.

Humberside Police acknowledges that this work should be developed to include intelligence products designed to specifically inform local officers about the vulnerable people living within their communities in order that opportunities to protect families and bring offenders to justice are maximised.  It is recognised that the response to domestic abuse should always be multi-agency based and this work be consistent with the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) process.

Divisional investigators who are called upon to manage certain categories of domestic abuse must receive mandatory training to support their capability to deal with high risk cases.

Training on domestic abuse is a mandatory component of the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme and student officers are encouraged to undertake an attachment within the PVPU working alongside experienced domestic abuse investigators.  Additional domestic abuse training is delivered as part of the Initial Crime Investigators Development Programme and it is proposed that part of the training to become a detective should include a mandatory attachment to the PVPU.

Additional training opportunities in the area of domestic abuse are currently being reviewed within Humberside Police and this has been progressed by the appointment of a dedicated trainer tasked specifically with PVP work of which domestic abuse is considered a significant part.  All of the training being delivered by Humberside police is underpinned by national best practice and supplemented by the College of Policing PVP training packages.

The force should review its decision to change the national definition of domestic abuse by removing interfamilial abuse, which is not understood or followed by frontline and specialist staff. This would be supported by partner agencies that are unclear of the benefits of the decision and feel that risks are raised as a consequence of it.

The Chief Officer Group have reviewed the decision to change the national definition of domestic abuse and remove interfamilial abuse from this; the outcome of that review was to remain with the current Humberside definition at this time but to re-evaluate this following the implementation of the new force operating model in April/May 2015.

The force should train and support staff to ensure that the needs of the victim are considered the primary concern when dealing with domestic abuse, and that dealing with the perpetrator is part of that process but not the main issue to be dealt with during their attendance.

Work is currently underway to develop a domestic abuse ‘toolkit’ document to provide additional guidance to staff in respect of dealing with domestic abuse and need for a victim centred approach. 

The key learning points from the HMIC inspections are distributed to all staff via Guidance and Information documents which are published internally on the force intranet and by way of an e-mail.

In addition, a training package has been developed by Learning & Development to provide supervisors with an improved working knowledge of the issues around coercion and control; this package has been reviewed by the College of Policing and will be delivered in January 2015.

Supervision of domestic abuse incidents and the submission of the risk assessment form should be improved so that each case receives the appropriate level of scrutiny.

This issue has been addressed at a Chief Officer level and clear guidance has been given to all supervisors of the need for appropriate levels of supervision in respect of domestic abuse cases.

A supervisor will now quality assure the actions of officers attending all incidents of domestic abuse and ensure that appropriate action has been taken to mitigate any risk and to support victims and children.  This quality assurance will include a review of the risk assessment to ensure that the level of risk has been appropriately identified and managed and that the domestic violence form has been submitted in a timely fashion.

In addition the supervisor will ensure that a thorough initial investigation has taken place to gather available evidence and afford victims the greatest opportunity for justice.

PPU staff manage high risk domestic abuse victims but the extent to which medium and standard risk cases are managed either in PPU or elsewhere is patchy, inconsistent and provides a level of concern that should be addressed.

PVP units across the force currently manage all high-risk domestic abuse cases alongside partner agencies to good effect.  The force restructuring process means that there will be a more consistent approach in the future with resources allocated based on the needs of the victim and needs of the investigation.

Standard Operating Procedures have been devised to provide a clear pathway for domestic abuse cases based upon risk; however specialist victim support services will remain accessible to all DA victims via the Domestic Violence Coordinators within the PVPU, irrespective of who is conducting the investigation.

Guidance has been published which highlights the priorities for investigators and investigative supervisors in respect of safeguarding and supporting victims; this is being incorporated into the crime recording audit process to ensure that cases are not filed without confirmation that long-term safeguarding and victim support has been addressed and that where appropriate, information has been shared with relevant partner agencies.

The force should ensure that it has a comprehensive and consistent approach to dealing with the release of domestic abuse offenders from prison, so as to make sure that the victim receives care and the offender is managed appropriately in every case.

A process is in place for Humberside Probation Trust to notify the Domestic Violence Coordinators and Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) of any prison releases in order that a risk management plan can be implemented to safeguard the victims.  This process is currently inconsistent and under review to ensure a better service to victims.