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Sussex Police not doing enough to tackle domestic violence says report
Sussex Police needs to make “considerable improvement” in some areas when it comes to tackling domestic violence, a new report says.
In a national inspection of how police forces respond to cases of domestic violence, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found responding to, and preventing incidents of domestic abuse, is a priority for the force.
Inspectors found although there are some pockets of good practice, some areas require substantial improvement in order to provide a consistent quality of service and minimise the risks to victims.
In Sussex, domestic abuse accounts for 4% of calls to the police for assistance and 8% of all recorded crime.
Sussex recorded 6,651 assaults with injury, of which 2,436 were domestic abuse related. This is 37% of all assaults with injury recorded for the 12 months to the end of August 2013.
Sussex has a low arrest rate – for every 100 domestic abuse crimes recorded there were 55 arrests. For most forces the number is between 45 and 90.
HMIC found victims of domestic incidents are normally identified when they contact the police control room and incidents are responded to as a high priority.
However more information, such as any reported previous incidents or whether there are children at the address, needs to be provided more quickly to officers who respond so that they can properly assess the risk to victims. The force is working well with partners to raise awareness within its communities and encourage victims to come forward.
The force has set up dedicated teams to deal with high risk domestic abuse incidents but needs to establish why so many risk assessments are being re-graded.
It also works well in partnership with other agencies and there are good structures in place to enable joined-up work to support victims and keep them safe.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham said: “Responding to and preventing incidents of domestic abuse is a priority for the Sussex Police, and this is clearly set out in the police and crime commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan.”
Superintendent Paul Furnell of the specialist crime command welcomed HMIC’s praise for its commitment in tackling the issue and accepted its recommendations to improve the service further.
He said: “We particularly welcome HMIC’s acknowledgement that Sussex is the first police force in the country to achieve White Ribbon status.
“White Ribbon UK is an international organisation working to involve men in opposing violence and abuse against women.
“We agree that even more can be done and our officers take pride in doing so in a professional and compassionate way.”
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