Report: Review of policing domestic abuse during the pandemic - 2021
The HMICFRS report found that the pandemic had put domestic abuse victims at greater risk, but it said police had made good use of technology and worked with partner agencies to find new and innovative ways to support victims.
“The police work with other public services and organisations to keep domestic abuse victims safe. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those involved moved to working from home. This meant they needed to establish new ways of communicating with victims and each other. Some organisations had to overcome problems with the compatibility of their technology with that of others. Importantly, meetings focused on sharing information between organisations for the protection of victims, such as multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs), continued to take place”.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary highlighted that domestic abuse victims were at greater risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to lockdown restrictions, which made it far harder to escape their abuser. The police have been praised for their proactive communication with victims, reaching-in to those locked down, rather than waiting for them to reach out.
The report highlights how Police and partner organisation made good use of technology and innovated to support victims. “Some organisations had to overcome problems with the compatibility of their technology with that of others. Importantly, meetings focused on sharing information between organisations for the protection of victims, such as multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs), continued to take place. Feedback also suggested that virtual meetings were better attended and more easily arranged, which in turn supported the ability to keep victims safe”.
- We recommend that if forces continue to adopt online contact methods in respect of victims of domestic abuse, they should immediately introduce an effective supervision and monitoring framework. The framework should assess the suitability of such contact methods, ensuring that victim needs are at the forefront of decisions around their use and appropriate onward action is taken in all cases. We recommend that forces immediately review their use of a telephone-based initial response to any domestic abuse incidents and crimes and ensure that it is in accordance with the strict parameters set out by the College of Policing.
- We recommend that forces immediately review their capacity to provide ongoing support and safeguarding to victims of domestic abuse whose case is awaiting trial at court. This should: ensure there are sufficient resources available to maintain contact with victims to keep them up to date with the progress of their case; and enable the offer of access to specialist support services as well as opportunities to address concerns victims may have regarding continuing to support a prosecution through the delays.
- We recommend that all forces immediately review their use of outcome 15, outcome 16 and evidence-led prosecutions. This is to ensure that: domestic abuse investigations guarantee all attempts to engage victims are explored, and that all possible lines of evidence are considered so that in all cases the best possible outcomes for victims are achieved; there is regular and effective supervision of investigations that supports the above point to be achieved; and the use of outcomes 15 and 16 is appropriate, and the reasons for using them, including auditable evidence of victim engagement, are clearly recorded.
Georgie joined techUK as the Justice and Emergency Services Programme Manager in March 2020.
Georgie is dedicated to representing suppliers by creating a voice for those who are selling into blue lights and the justice system, but also by helping them in navigating this market. Georgie is committed to creating a platform for collaboration, from engaging with industry and stakeholders to understand the latest innovations, to the role tech can play in responding to a range of issues our justice and emergency services are facing
Prior to joining techUK, Georgie managed a Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) in Westminster. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police and London borough councils to prevent and reduce the impact of crime on the business community. Her work ranged from the impact of low-level street crime and anti-social behaviour on the borough, to critical incidents and violent crime.