Police pledge extra resources to target 'concerning' rise in domestic abuse
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Extra resources are to be put into a crackdown on domestic abusers who repeatedly offend, to tackle a rising number of cases.
Officers will get additional training in an effort to boost the number of domestic abuse convictions in Norfolk and give greater support to victims.
It comes as officers across the county began to wear ribbons for the next 16 days in support of White Ribbon Day, a national event seeking to end male violence towards women.
Domestic abuse now makes up almost one in four of all incidents investigated by Norfolk police, with around 14,000 cases in the last 12 months.
The force’s chief constable Paul Sanford said it was “growing at a concerning rate” and was the single biggest issue facing the force with almost every officer handling at least one domestic crime.
He pledged extra resources for a domestic abuse perpetrators programme recently set up to tackle the problem.
It aims to improve investigations, bring more successful prosecutions, use more measures like civil orders and identify the root causes behind repeat offending.
“Whilst we are in the early stages of my perpetrator programme I anticipate it being expanded and broadened,” said Mr Sanford.
“There desperately needs to be some interventions at the earlier point in an offender's life to stop the idea of this being an appropriate way to manage a relationship.
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“I believe at the heart of this problem is a growing group of people who just don’t know what a normal healthy relationship looks like.
“That is because they themselves have been brought up in a troubled family or had difficult childhood experiences or that they’ve learnt what a relationship is like online and through exposure to things like extreme pornography.”
Mr Sanford said in the past specialist units had been able to absorb domestic abuse investigations but the number of cases now meant all frontline officers are being given additional training.
“In any incident, even the highest risk ones, it will typically be a frontline uniform officer who first steps through the door,” he said.
“So the things we are making sure we now include in training are how those officers can secure the best evidence so that we have the greatest chance of prosecution and how they can best support the victims.
“We know that if you get that first hour right, that moment can make or break a case. So providing my officers with those skills is essential.”
Use of body cam footage is also being given greater emphasis in a bid to boost conviction rates.
“Better than any statement it can record the scenario that is appearing in front of officers and we are increasingly using that to improve the quality of evidence that is presented in court and even pursue convictions even where the victim doesn’t consent,” said Mr Sanford.
“Where we see violence and abuse we have to recognise that it is often very difficult for a victim to support prosecution either through fear or concern about what the consequence will be for the broader family.”
White Ribbon Day follows the murder of Sarah Everard by a then-serving Metropolitan police officer. Mr Sanford said the crime had damaged public confidence in the police.
He added: “White Ribbon Day further underlines the commitment we need to make as a society to tackle violence against women and girls.
“The focus is on men to make the promise which is important given the nature of the violence we see on a daily basis.”
“We analyse this data on a very regular basis, often daily, and it enables us to identify locations down to street level, and officers receive those reports and are tasked to go out on patrol,” said Mr Sanford.