|Police support Domestic Abuse Awareness week|
|Thursday, 07 October 2010 12:43|
Surrey Police is committed to continuing to improve services for victims of domestic abuse. Two significant developments in recent months highlight this and officers will be working with partners during Domestic Abuse Awareness Week (week commencing 11 October 2010) to raise awareness that domestic abuse is a crime and to explain the help available to victims.
The launch of two specialist courts in Surrey to deal with cases of domestic abuse has meant that these cases can be ‘fast-tracked’ in the criminal justice system, and victims receive an improved service.
Based at Woking Magistrates’ Court on Tuesdays and Redhill Magistrates’ Court on Thursdays, the specialist courts enable domestic abuse cases to be ‘fast-tracked’ and partners in support agencies to have staff readily available with advice, guidance and support.
The creation of the courts, for which all staff involved have had specific training, was the culmination of efforts by partner agencies to put victims and their safety at the heart of the criminal justice system and ensure those who commit domestic abuse are brought to justice.
A clearly defined protocol between agencies including housing organisations, county and borough councils, voluntary agencies and others who form part of the justice system, and their approaches to domestic abuse, aims to make sure offences are identified quickly, investigated thoroughly and prosecuted successfully while at the same time providing victims with the crucial support necessary throughout the court process.
At the beginning of October Surrey Police began operating a new nationally recognised process for those officers and partner agency staff who are the first to respond to domestic abuse, stalking, harassment and honour-based-violence incidents. All these incidents have a common factor in that victims are likely to be at risk of further harm and it is important any risk is recognised and minimised.
The new process, known as DASH, was piloted in Wiltshire where it was found to help officers who are first at the scene of an incident in their assessment of risk. Every incident is different but having a check list helps officers in the difficult professional judgements they have to make. All police forces in England and Wales have agreed to use this toolkit.
Surrey Police is strongly supportive of Domestic Abuse Awareness week in Surrey as it is vital that victims are encouraged to report any incidents of domestic abuse. Officers will be working alongside partners in activities such as manning stands in town centres and visiting schools, to raise awareness that domestic abuse is a crime and explain the support available to victims.
Detective Superintendent Ray Marley, Head of Public Protection for Surrey Police, said: “Domestic abuse is a crime and we will do all we can to reduce the number of victims in Surrey. To do this, however, we need victims to have the confidence to report events and I am pleased how we now work with our partners to ensure support and advice is available.
“In recent years there has been some evidence that more incidents are being reported but we are far from satisfied that we are doing as well as we can. I was delighted with the launch of the domestic abuse courts which I see as a very positive step which provides extra protection and support to victims and witnesses while bringing offenders to justice effectively. By supporting these courts we are sending a clear message to perpetrators and society as a whole that domestic abuse will not be tolerated.
“We have adopted the nationally recognised best practice DASH for dealing with domestic abuse incidents. The seriousness of domestic abuse cannot be over-estimated as we know that the future for victims who do not receive help can be fatal. We must all accept our responsibilities and people who are aware a victim is suffering must do all they can to ensure it’s reported so that working with our partners we can safeguard their future.”