The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a 25 per cent increase in reported domestic abuse incidents in Dorset during 2020/2021.
There were 9,124 incidents compared to 7,289 in 2019/2020.
Dorset Police has therefore introduced a number of improvements to how it responds to domestic abuse and introduced three new programmes to deliver better outcomes for all those affected.
Chief Inspector Julie Howe, Force vulnerability programme lead said: “Dorset Police is committed to providing an outstanding service to victims of domestic abuse across the county.
“Over the last 18 months we have taken time to understand the impact that this abuse has on the lives of victims and their families and made sure that our services put the voice of the victim at the very heart of everything we do.”
SafeLives, a UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, has worked closely with Dorset Police to help it understand its strengths and areas for improvement. As a result, the Force has adopted the Domestic Abuse Matters training programme, which is currently being delivered to 750 officers and frontline staff.
It covers a range of topics, including coercive control, victim blaming, and manipulation techniques used by domestic abuse offenders, and equips first responders with the tools they need to better support victims.
In addition, the DRIVE perpetrator programme was launched in March 2021 as a partnership between Dorset Police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Dorset Council, BCP Council and Public Health Dorset, with the first six months funded by the Home Office. DRIVE works with high-risk, high-harm and serial offenders to challenge and support changes in their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours, and appropriately address any areas of vulnerability.
A multi-agency panel brings together representatives from relevant agencies, including policing, adult and child social services, housing and health, to provide a rounded view of cases and refer appropriate cases to the programme.
DRIVE, which is delivered by Hampton Trust, aims to change the narrative around domestic abuse and stop asking victims why they didn’t leave and start asking perpetrators why they didn’t stop.
Tracey Kent, deputy chief executive at Hampton Trust, said: “To truly tackle the root cause of domestic abuse, we have a responsibility to hold those responsible for abuse accountable to break the cycle of harmful behaviour and safeguard our future generations.”
Dorset Police also introduced Operation Encompass in early 2021, which is a way of sharing information between the Force and schools across the county where there have been instances of domestic abuse involving a child. It allows the police to pass on relevant information to the school that the child attends so that the right support can be put in place.
Chief Inspector Julie Howe continued: “We know that domestic abuse devastates lives, and this is by no means the end of our journey. Dorset Police has a culture of continuous improvement and we are always striving to do better.
“We will continue to work to deliver the outstanding service that our communities expect and deserve.”
David Sidwick, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I’ve pledged that victims will be at the heart of the new Police and Crime Plan for Dorset which I am currently developing, and that includes victims of domestic abuse, a toxic and destructive crime which sadly all too often remains hidden.
“I’m glad to see the introduction of schemes such as the DRIVE programme in Dorset but I know that far more can and should be done to help these victims.”
Anyone who is affected by domestic abuse can get support from Dorset Police by calling 101 or using our online reporting tools: www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online/
In an emergency, always call 999.
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