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Domestic Abuse Warning in Police Report

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1:34pm 27th November 2014
(Updated 1:34pm 27th November 2014)

Some victims of domestic violence in Cornwall are being failed by police.

A report says lower risk cases are not always being properly assessed.

But the Devon and Cornwall force has been praised for investigations, reducing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour.

Lucille lives in Penzance. She told Pirate FM behaviour is a big problem in her neighbourhood: "They're down there and they're drinking, they're shouting, they make a lot of noise, they're using bad launguage, they do graffitti on people's walls on the outside of their houses and we're just getting fed up of it.

"There's another young lady here on the road and it's dark at that end and when she's got to come up here on her own she says it's not very nice when there's a group of teenagers there because you don't know what they're going to do. It can be quite frightening."

In her report Dru Sharpling, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary said: "I am impressed that the co-location of resources with partners is widespread and has led to better information sharing and action. This is particularly prominent in relation to anti-social behaviour, addressing vulnerability, repeat incidents and safeguarding issues. Investigations are generally of a good standard and conducted in a timely manner, with robust supervision, direction and scrutiny. A ‘victim-centred service’ is a stated aim of the force, and initial contact with victims is good but the service at latter stages of investigations is inconsistent. Police custody arrangements were generally positive and detainees were commendably well cared for.

"I have been encouraged by the progress the force has made in achieving savings despite spending less on policing than most other forces at the start of the spending review and having less scope to find those savings. Partnership working is strong, with evidence of effective joint working at all levels; this is especially so across neighbourhoods.

"I have some specific concerns about the force’s approach to domestic abuse. High-risk cases are generally dealt with well, but there is less consistency with lower-risk cases. Weaknesses and inconsistencies in the oversight and supervision of the risk assessment process when officers first attend meant that the force could not be confident that it was consistently providing an appropriate response in all cases of domestic abuse.

"I also have concerns about the force’s approach to crime-recording, which is not as accurate as it should be.

"Our intention is to examine leadership specifically as part of future PEEL Assessments, once criteria have been established. This will allow us to take account of the College of Policing review of leadership that is currently underway.

"In common with other forces, there is a need to develop a better understanding of the changing demands for police services.

"I am interested to see how the force responds to areas HMIC has identified for improvement over the next 12 months."

Read more here

Devon and Cornwall Police said it welcomed the positive HMIC PEEL assessment and that it showed they were performing strongly & serving communities to high level.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said: “The HMIC clearly states the Force is in a good place, performing well and serving our communities with professionalism and integrity. It states that policing costs 46 pence per person, per day in Devon and Cornwall and I would consider that very much value for money policing.

“It is a great tribute to my officers and staff to see such a positive report, despite the funding challenges we face as an organisation and will continue to have to deal with across the board.

“There is fantastic work going on at all levels within my organisation to give a value for money and fit for purpose policing service and this independent report shows me this is and will continue to happen in Devon and Cornwall.”

The report makes comment regarding the Force protecting those at risk of harm with particular emphasis on those at risk from domestic abuse and ensuring communication with victims was consistent.

Chief Constable Sawyer added: “The report does raise some concerns around domestic abuse, service to victims and ensuring integrity in crime recording. These are all areas already being proactively addressed and I am committed to improving these vital areas of policing, however, they should not detract from the overall positive nature of the report.

“We embrace any opportunities to learn and improve and will always listen to independent views on the services we provide.”


1:34pm 27th November 2014

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