Police aim to respond to domestic abuse in an hour as fewer than one in seven crimes are solved

Norfolk Special Constables take part in an intensive training event where they get to be assessed on

Norfolk Special Constables take part in an intensive training event where they get to be assessed on their responses to different events like domestic abuse, traffic violations and public disturbances.Byline: Sonya DuncanCopyright: Archant 2017 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Officers are being urged to attend domestic abuse victims within one hour as almost two-thirds in the last year refused to back a prosecution.

The reluctance of victims to engage with police has contributed to a stark fall in the number of domestic abuse crimes being solved.

In the last 12 months fewer than one in seven domestic abuse crimes were solved, down from almost a third long-term.

In December 2017, Norfolk Police changed the way they responded to domestic abuse calls in Norwich.

"What we were seeing in Norwich in particular was a growing number of appointments being made with domestic abuse victims taking several days for officers to get to," said Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Nick Davison.

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"The longer you leave it, the less likely that victim is going to engage with you and help you help them."

A pilot in Norwich upgraded the urgency of domestic abuse calls and required an officer to attend within an hour.

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The pilot was rolled out county-wide six months ago, and has seen a 39pc rise in recorded crimes.

While domestic abuse victims used to be seen by an officer in an average of three days, nine in ten are now seen within 24 hours.

"Sadly domestic abuse remains one of the highest demands for Norfolk Constabulary," said T/ACC Davison.

"That will continue.

"In 2018 we attended 21,000 domestic incidents which is a four per cent increase on the previous year. Of those 21,000 incidents, 7,510 domestic crimes were recorded - an increase of 39pc.

"It is a significant part of what front line constables deal with on a day to day basis. "In December 2017 a small scale pilot was run in Norwich whereby all domestic abuse related calls were automatically graded what we call an urgent Grade B.

"It is not a blues and twos emergency run, but we say stop what you are doing and make your way to that location straight away.

"We are getting the desired effect of getting officers to the victims more quickly and dealing with the issue of disengagement."

The trial has meant response times to other urgent calls have slipped by seven minutes on average.

Officers have to prioritise attendance of those domestic violence calls," said T/ACC Davison. "Prior to that they had some flexibility to manage their workload.

"What we do find is victims find it very difficult to support prosecutions because of the complexity of domestic abuse. Body worn video allows us to lead victimless prosecutions using the officers themselves as witnesses.

"There is a team of officers who review domestic abuse calls that come in and check and review the threat assessment.

"If they think they need to put in some extra support around that victim like an alarm, CAD markers or a Clare's Law disclosure they are there to wrap that support around them."

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