The Northumbria report was published in March 2013 and as PCC for Northumbria I am pleased to say that HMIC found that tackling domestic abuse is a clear priority that is recognised by officers and staff throughout the organisation. This reflects the local concernstackling this issue is a priority for the public and I will continue to take an active personal lead in relation to this service area.
I was pleased that Northumbria was identified as one the eight forces identified by name as giving a good response in terms of supporting victims of domestic abuse with an above average arrest rate with 86% of domestic abuse crimes recorded resulting in an arrest and 50% of arrests resulting in a charge.
The report also highlights good work with partner agencies to deliver services to victims to help make them safe and good information sharing between agencies. It also found that high risk incidents are dealt with by the most experienced investigators and specialist staff also deal with the highest risk victims and perpetrators.Specifically it identifies that officers are gathering powerful and compelling evidence to prosecute perpetrators in victimless prosecutions, so that offenders can be brought to justice even if the victim does not feel able to support the prosecution.
However, I am not complacent and always seek service improvement, the report also makes it clear that there is more to be done. It highlights areas for improvement, such as training for front desk staff lagging behind training for phone responders, we will put this right very quickly with the help of local victims’ groups and I know our staff will welcome this.
Domestic and sexual abuse is one of the objectives in my Police and Crime Plan and last December, together with fellow north east Police and Crime Commissioners Barry Coppinger, from Cleveland, and Durham’s Ron Hogg, we launched the ‘Violence Against Women and Girls strategy’ looking at all aspects of domestic violence. Within this strategy there are 20 priorities identified and in my governance role I will ensure that these priorities are delivered in Northumbria alongside the six recommendations made HMIC in their report ensuring that we have a comprehensive service improvement plan.
I will monitor this improvement plan alongside the Chief Constable through the Strategic Management Board and my management meetings with the Chief Constable and her team.