Cleveland and Durham forces praised for domestic violence work


A POLICE force has faired well in a Government report into domestic abuse.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has conducted a study into domestic violence and Cleveland Police scored well above the national average for the amount of perpetrators arrested for alleged crimes.

Figures from the report suggest that for every 100 domestic abuse crimes recorded, there were 98 arrests in Cleveland – for most forces nationally that number is between 45 and 90.

Domestic abuse accounts for three per cent of all calls to the force for assistance, and of these calls 42 per cent were from repeat victims, with domestic abuse accounting for eight per cent of all crime.

In Durham Constabulary there was a similar picture with the forces “excellent service” for domestic abuse victims being recognised.

This is in contrast to the more bleak picture of other forces up and down the country.

Deputy Chief Constable of Cleveland Police Iain Spittal said: “While the HMIC report paints a bleak picture of how the police service nationally deals with domestic abuse, I am encouraged by the findings during the inspection in Cleveland.

“Specifically highlighted are the good systems in place for call handlers and dispatchers to identify victims, the specialist team providing services to high risk and some medium risk victims of domestic abuse and the organisational effectiveness for keeping people safe.

“We take a proactive approach to domestic abuse, which is reflected in our high arrest rate, and our officers, staff and police partner staff are aware it is a priority for both the Force and Commissioner.

“We know that we still need to carry out some more detailed work to improve knowledge, training and understanding of specific issues raised by the HMIC to ensure we improve our service further to victims of domestic abuse. We will be carefully considering the report’s recommendations.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger added: “Domestic abuse is a key priority for me, and over the coming year I will be working closely with both Durham and Northumbria PCCs on the Violence Against Women and Girls regional strategy.

“Cleveland has made progress and I will be working with the Force closely to look at the recommendations from the report – however it is clear we need to see further action to deliver improvements to victims of domestic abuse, and I will be scrutinising the performance in this area intently.”

Supt Paul Goundry, Head of Safeguarding at Durham, said; “Durham Constabulary’s excellent service to victims has not been achieved alone but with high levels of engagement with partners such as probation, health, social services, local authorities, outreach services and the voluntary sector.

“We view domestic abuse as a joint problem that we tackle together.

“In County Durham and Darlington the partnership approach to dealing with domestic abuse, in all its forms, never stands still but is constantly evolving to reflect our multi-agency action plan.

“We will now seek to incorporate the recommendations made by HMIC in this report as part of that continuous improvement and together with our partners will work to both achieve and go beyond the recommendations.”

Inspectors of the report was damning against other police forces across England and Wales saying thousands of domestic violence victims are being failed due to “alarming and unacceptable weaknesses” in the way cases are investigated.

They claim that 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.

Poor attitudes, ineffective training and inadequate evidence-gathering were all heavily criticised by the watchdog, which has called for an urgent shake-up of the response to domestic abuse - from frontline officers up to police chiefs.

There were 269,700 domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales between 2012 and 2013, the report said, with 77 women killed by their partners or ex-partners in the same period.

Inspectors singled out Greater Manchester, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Gloucestershire Police forces as being of particularly serious concern.