You are in:

Warning: This is archived material and may be out of date. The Metropolitan Police Authority has been replaced by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC).

See the MOPC website for further information.

Greenwich BOCU response to domestic and sexual violence

Report: 2
Date: 12 June 2009
By: Julie Ellison, Detective Inspector, Public Protection Group, MPS

A. Greenwich borough overview

  • Greenwich is a semi-inner London Borough with an estimated population growth of 8% between 2008 and 2012, anticipated to reach between 229,900 and 232,300 by 2011. Greenwich is the 24th most deprived Local Authority in England (out of 354). When compared to the other 31 London boroughs, Greenwich is the 8th most deprived.
  • Over 60% of children in Greenwich are living on or below the poverty line. It also has a significantly larger population of lone parents than the rest of the London region, as well as Great Britain as a whole.
  • Since the 2001 census, Greenwich’s Black and Minority Ethnicities (BME) population is estimated to have increased by between 21% and 27%. It is anticipated that children from BME communities make up approximately 52% of pupils in Greenwich schools.
  • The Strategic Intelligence Assessment has shown that approximately one in 250 residents have a severe mental health problem. This is predicted to increase disproportionately to the increase in the population, since mental health problems are more common in younger age groups and the majority of the new residents in Greenwich are predicted to be under the age of 50.
  • Two new prisons are scheduled to be built in 2009/10 next to Belmarsh Prison. One new prison, with over 600 places, will be for young offenders. The current prison has a dual function as a high security prison and a remand prison will hold 900 male prisoners at any time. There is a high turnover and over 5,000 prisoners go through Belmarsh each year. Prisoners in Belmarsh are considered Greenwich residents for the duration of their stay even if they usually live outside Greenwich. These prisoners are often released directly into Greenwich.
  • Population growth in the Thames Gateway boroughs will rise at more than double the rate of the rest of London. New large housing development sites are planned for construction in the Thames Gateway area and the largest of these are located at Greenwich and Stratford. The Thames Gateway currently encompasses some of the most deprived areas of the country, particularly in Newham, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich. Greenwich is particularly prominent for social housing. In some wards, up to 80% of households are social housing.
  • At the most recent Strategic Co-ordinating and Tasking Meeting (April 2009) the above issues were discussed and as a result a comprehensive strategic assessment for domestic violence and serious sexual offences was commissioned by the Borough Higher Analyst. The assessment will focus on the changing demography of the borough (deprivation, single parent families and population growth, together with the ‘night time’ economy around Greenwich Town Centre and the O2 entertainment complex) and the potential impact for policing. The assessment is not yet complete but will inform resource allocation, prevention tactics and priorities for Partnership working.

B. Data for both domestic and sexual violence

Data provided in this report has been taken from PIB statistics and covers the period 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009.

1. Number of incidents flagged as Domestic Violence: 4495
2. Number of crimes flagged as Domestic Violence: 2357
3. Number of serious sexual offence incidents: 252
4. Number of serious sexual offence crimes: 230
5. Domestic Violence incidents with repeat victims of crime: 522 crimes (22.1%)
6. Domestic Violence sanction detection rate and proportion of sanction detections, which are cautions:

  • Sanction detection rate: 42.3% (target 45%)
  • 46% of all sanction detections were adult cautions
  • 54% of all sanction detections were adult charges
  • 69.2% arrest rate (target of 67%).

7. Serious sexual offence sanction detection rate: 51 detections out of 230 offences (22.2%)

8. Number of Domestic Violence incidents flagged as ‘Honour’ Based Violence and / or Forced marriage:

  • 4 crime allegations are flagged as Forced Marriages, one of which was also flagged as ‘HV’, denoting ‘honour’ based violence.
  • All of these victims were Asian females and all the accused Asian males.
  • The victims’ ages were all between 26 and 32 and the accused ages were all between 32 and 38 years.

9. Number of Domestic Violence homicides over the last 12 months:

 There was one domestic homicide within this period. The victim was a 35-year-old white female; the perpetrator was a 35-year-old black male, who also died at the scene. It is believed that the male killed his partner and then committed suicide. This is corroborated by the initial post mortem, which showed that the deceased male’s injuries were entirely consistent with being self-inflicted. The coroner’s court inquest has been opened but no update is available. However, the multi agency domestic violence homicide review is still in progress.

10. Proportion of Serious Sexual Offences which are not crimed or crime related incidents:

  • Not crimed - 22.8% (18)
  • Crime related incident - 5.1% (4)

11. Equality of Domestic Violence survivors and offenders:

  • Incidents of domestic violence. Of the 4495 domestic violence incidents the age ranges of victims were as follows:
  • 41.5% were aged 18-29 years
  • 29.5% were aged 30-39 years
  • 19.5% were aged 40-49 years
  • 6.7% were aged 50-59 years
  • 2.7% were aged 60+ years

Of these 4495 incidents, 83 related to disabled victims, 67 of which were female and 16 were male.
Of these 4495 incidents, 26 related to same sex relationships, 16 of these were male and 10 were female.

  • Victims of Domestic Violence
    • 81.1% of victims were female and 18.9% male.
      • 72% of victims self defined as White - North European
      • 2% of victims self defined as White - South European
      • 22% of victims self defined as Black
      • 4% of victims self defined as Asian
      • 0.01% of victims self defined as Other – Arabic or North African
      • 0.6% of victims self defined as Other – Chinese, Japanese, Other South East Asian
  • Accused - domestic violence
    • 68% of accused self defined as White - North European
    • 2% of accused self defined as White - South European
    • 23% of accused self defined as Black
    • 5% of accused self defined as Asian
    • 0% of accused self defined as Other – Arabic or North African
    • 1.3% of accused self defined as Other – Chinese, Japanese, Other South East Asian
  • Incidents of Serious Sexual Offences
    • 89.6% of victims were female; the remainder 10.4% were male.
  • Victims of Serious Sexual Offences / (Rape including penetration)
    • 70.8% (61%) of victims self defined as White - North European
    • 1.4% (1.3%) of victims self defined as White - South European
    • 24.5% (29.9%) of victims self defined as Black
    • 2.8% (5.2%) of victims self defined as Asian
    • 0% (2.6%) of victims did not self define
    • 0.5% (0%) of victims self defined as Other – Chinese, Japanese, Other Asian
  • Accused – Serious Sexual Offences / (Rape including penetration)
    • 29.3% (40.75%) of accused self defined as White North European
    • 12.2% (3.7%) of accused self defined as White - South European
    • 51.2% (40.75%) of accused self defined as Black
    • 4.9% (11.1%) of accused self defined as Asian
    • 2.4% (3.7%) of accused self defined as Other – Arabic or North African
  • Age range - Victims / Accused of serious sexual assault - Rape and assault by penetration
Age range Victim (77)  Accused
13 to 16 years 9% 7.4%
17 to 20 years 32.5% 7.4%
21 to 30 years 29.9% 40.7%
31 to 40 years 16.9% 29.6%
41 to 50 years 7.8% 3.7%
51 to 60 years 3.9% 7.5%
61 to 70 years 0% 3.7%
  • 10.4% (8) of the victims were ‘flagged as having disabilities. This was detailed as:
    • 37.5% (3) learning and understanding
    • 12.5% (1) learning difficulty - mental health issues - physical impairment
    • 12.5% (1) mental health issues, physical impairment
    • 37.5% (3) Psychiatric / mental disorder

There is no information available on disabilities for accused.

C. Policy compliance and quality assurance

12. Greenwich BOCU’s action to assess and manage risks to ensure the safety of survivors and ensure perpetrators are accountable:

  • All emergency calls to police for Domestic Violence related incidents are recorded on the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system and classified as ‘Class 29 incidents’. These calls are monitored by the Integrated Borough Operations Supervisor (IBOS), who ensures that all Class 29 CAD incidents have corresponding crime reference (CRIS) numbers. The CAD to CRIS conversion rate for financial year 2008 – 2009 was 82.6% against an MPS average of 80.6%.
  • All CRIS reports created for domestic incidents now automatically have a DV flag entered, upon creation of the DV/Hate crime page. This page enables reporting officers to record their initial risk assessment and to mark that a 124d (domestic violence incident record) has been created. Since the introduction of this new DV / Hate Crime tab, it is now possible to search and quickly identify those cases assessed as high risk. CSU Supervisors use this search tool on a daily basis to ensure that such victims receive an appropriate response. It assists in identifying high or medium risk cases, when dealing with a large volume of reports. The search facility is used throughout the life of the investigation to track changes in the ongoing risk assessment to ensure appropriate responses. The use of this facility is in its infancy.
  • When an officer identifies a risk, they are responsible for managing that risk by utilising the RARA model – Remove the risk (i.e. arresting the suspect), Avoid the risk (i.e. re-locate the victim), Reduce the risk (i.e. bail conditions for suspect), Accept the risk (i.e. multi agency risk assessment and management). Various measures are used including: Panic alarms where the victim wishes to remain at home and other viable alternatives to remove the risk have been exhausted coupled with a ‘Special Scheme’ note placed on CAD, alerting officers to that address if later calls for assistance are made. Sanctuary Scheme is also available, see further in report.
  • Every Domestic crime report recorded is screened by the Crime Management Unit (CMU) who ensure that the incident falls into the ACPO definition of a DV incident. i.e. ‘Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults, aged 18 and over, who are or who have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender and sexuality. Staff within the CMU then search CRIS to establish if this victim has been a victim of DV before, and flag it (RA) accordingly. It is then allocated to the CSU for where it is assessment and allocation by a CSU supervisor. Basic reporting standards (SOPs) are checked and if not reached, constructive feedback is sent back to both the reporting officer and their team Inspector.
  • Greenwich BOCU are also currently in the process of initiating a Domestic Violence advice / support car. This vehicle will initially be staffed by experienced CSU officers from 0800hrs until 2200 hrs, 5 days a week, and would give advice to officers attending all domestic incidents. The aim is that this car would attend all domestic related scenes of crime, ensuring that all initial scene preservation and evidence gathering is obtained efficiently and effectively. They will also be available to give support and advice over the phone to officers reporting Non Crime domestic incidents. This car will be fully equipped with essential tools. Their role at the scene would be to i) ensure primary statements have been taken ii) take photographs of scene / victim / injuries / damage iii) ensure full risk assessment is completed iv) assist in target hardening v) immediately provide victims with details of advice or support services vi) ensure risk of all others involved is assessed i.e. Children and vulnerable adults vii) promote compliance with the positive action policy. It is anticipated that early CID intervention into the investigation will have a significant improvement on the BOCU’s performance and ultimately victim satisfaction.
  • The arrest rate for Domestic Violence offences has improved greatly over this last year and the end of year performance stood at 69.2%. This is attributed to a number of factors; the CSU DI holding individual officers and first line supervisors to account for non arrests and bringing repeat non arrests to the Daily Management Meeting (DMM), the CSU DI initiating regular monthly mini Athena days, in addition to the twice yearly MPS Athena Operations that target and arrest outstanding domestic violence and hate crime suspects. Every effort is made to arrest suspects as soon as practicable after they have been identified; no arrests are delayed to support such operations. These operations involve the entire CSU team, as well as SNT and other borough resources, to plan co-ordinated arrests for a number of outstanding suspects. The IBO supervisor has supported the early arrest ethos by managing a system, which ensures officers create CAD’s for suspect arrest enquiries if they are not present at the time of initial investigation.
  • In 2008, the CSU DI and the senior prosecutor from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) formulated a strategy to improve the attrition rate of DV cases being taken to court. The CPS allocated a dedicated lawyer once a fortnight, to be present at Plumstead Police Station to give advice solely to CSU officers for DV and Hate crime investigations. This gave greater consistency in advice and more enhanced specialist knowledge of Domestic Violence cases. It also enabled officers to seek advice from a lawyer at any stage of the investigative process, even at the point of early arrest. This prevented officers from exploring investigative avenues which would otherwise have been fruitless. The working relationship between the CSU and CPS improved greatly, as did the quality of evidence submitted before the courts. This arrangement was discontinued in early 2009 due to CPS staff restrictions and difficulties encountered in establishing a suitable location for such consultations. Nevertheless, the CPS has expressed an interest to resume a similar system as soon as resources permit.
  • Greenwich Borough Police and the local Crown Prosecution Service are joint signatories to ‘A protocol between the Police and Crown Prosecution Service in the investigation and prosecution of allegations of rape’. The objectives of the protocol are to; reflect national ACPO and CPS policy ensure the adoption of the recommendations of Without Consent, achieve improved and consistent performance in the investigation and prosecution of rape.
  • Some offenders are sentenced at court to complete an Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme (IDAP), which is run and monitored by The London Probation Service (LPS). The behaviour of these offenders is monitored as a condition of their release and any breaches can result in their recall to court for an alternative disposal option to be considered by the judge. This programme has proved very effective on Greenwich borough and has been improved excellent communication between the CSU and the LPS, including Women’s Safety Officers. The LPS regularly forward the CSU a current list of offenders on the programme, which is then searched against all crimes recorded. If it appears these offenders have been involved in crime, then this information is shared with LPS who then recall the perpetrator to court for the breach.
  • Recorded risk assessments are monitored throughout the life of an investigation and are re-visited at significant milestones. All cases deemed as high risk are referred to the newly evolved Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC), which was fully implemented in April 2009. Prior to this, high-risk cases were discussed at a Multi Agency level but under less formal arrangements of a Domestic Violence Case Panel. Over the last 6 months, key stakeholders have met regularly in order to develop this case panel into a fully effective MARAC, which is now held every two weeks at various locations across Greenwich Borough. Greenwich MARAC includes representatives from: Greenwich Police (whom Chair these meetings), Greenwich Community Safety and Integrated Enforcement (CS&IE), Greenwich Primary Care Trust (PCT), Safeguarding Children’s Team (GLSCB) Safeguarding Adults Team (GLSAB), Greenwich Mental Health Team, Neighbourhood Services (all departments), Victim Support Service (VSS), Woman’s Trust, Women’s Aid, Sanctuary Scheme (further explained), Refuge, London Probation Service, Drug and Alcohol Teams and other voluntary support agencies. Where victims with specific needs are identified, i.e. BME, LGBT, disability, the IDVA would be requested to source the appropriate representative from the relevant agency.
  • The aim of the MARAC is to reduce repeat victimisation of Domestic Violence victims by intervention and effective planning. All cases being discussed at MARAC level are fully documented by the MARAC administrator at CS&IE, who also co-ordinates the referrals, records and distributes minutes and collates responses to set actions. Within CSU an experienced Detective Sergeant is responsible for identifying all high-risk cases with the assistance of an experienced CSU constable. All referrals are logged and research forms kept for audit purposes. If a case is referred to the MARAC, the new MC Flag is applied to the most recent CRIS report relating to that victim. This enables subsequent investigating officers to be aware that the matter has been discussed at MARAC level and this would trigger a repeat referral back to the MARAC panel. It is these repeat referrals back to the MARAC panel that are measured and ultimately the success of MARAC intervention is determined.
  • Greenwich BOCU has a nominated analyst within the Borough Intelligence Unit (BIU) who assists with identifying repeat domestic violence victims. She has devised an IT system called Domestic Victim and Suspect Search (DVASS), which is downloaded from CRIS on a weekly basis and is readily accessible to all CSU staff to assist them in background searches for their investigations. This database provides a list of all multiple repeat victims, detailing how many times they have been victims throughout year periods and easily shows risk factors such as drugs, alcohol, weapons and whether children were present or involved. It is anticipated that this DVASS system will be introduced into the IBO in order that they can provide more detailed research information to officers attending scenes of DV incidents. This system is being reviewed by the Violent Crime Directorate with a view to implementing across all MPS boroughs.
  • The BIU analyst produces a profile of the top Domestic Violence suspects for discussion at the Fortnightly Intelligence Meeting (FIM). The selection criteria is based around the anticipated high risk to victims, the likelihood of suspect re-offending or their potential to use increasing violence. Details of these key target individuals are cascaded to all staff via the daily briefing slides for their action, as research has shown that these individuals are likely to offend in a variety of crime types and by apprehending them for non DV offences this reduces their opportunity to commit DV offences. The information is also considered for referral to the MARAC for a co-ordinated Multi Agency Response.
  • The London Mainstream Model sets out the strategy to implement Specialist Domestic Violence Courts across the MPS, supporting the Public Service Agreements to improve support to DV victims (PSA 24.3 and 23.1), bring more perpetrators to justice (PSA 24.1) and increase public confidence in the Criminal Justice System (PSA 24.2). Greenwich does not yet have a dedicated Specialist Domestic Violence Court, therefore plan to apply for accreditation by April 2010. Key stakeholders have already met in preparation and identified significant areas for development in order that the model can be fit for purpose, this will include identification of cases, training, court listing considerations, equality and diversity and review of court facilities. The aim is to improve the criminal justice service response to domestic violence by identifying victims at the earliest stage and to ensure offender programmes are focussed around reducing the risk of harm, as well as holding them to account for their behaviour.
  • Greenwich Jigsaw Team plays an integral role in monitoring and managing the risks posed by sex offenders and potentially dangerous offenders. They assess the risks of each offender using the Risk MATRIX 2000 system and bring high risks cases for discussion at regular Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), which is attended by various agencies such as Mental Health, Probation, Social care, Housing, Local Counsellors.

13. Processes to support officers and ensure they effectively implement Standard Operating Procedures, especially in cases where several procedures may be relevant:

  • The CSU DS screens every DV and Hate crime to ensure adherence to the DV Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) (including Merlin (Missing Persons and Other Linked Indices) / PAC (Pre-assessment Checklist), in cases where children are involved) and also that officers have considered offences which may affect other specialist departments i.e. Child Abuse Investigation Team (CAIT). The quality and standard of Merlins / PACs are assessed by Public Protection Desk officers, led by a Detective Sergeant with previous Child Abuse Investigation experience. They then notify other statutory partners such as Greenwich Safeguarding Children’s Team as well as CAIT referral desk. There are also occasions whereby this information may be shared with partners from the Education Department or Primary Care Trust, controlled by the appropriate referrals desk.
  • In such cases where it is apparent that there is a cross boundary remit, it is essential for early liaison between the Detective Inspectors from both units, to ascertain primacy of the investigation or an agreement to be reached regarding joint working. This happens regularly in situations that children become involved in domestic violence incidents between their parents. Greenwich CSU has an excellent working relationship with officers from Child Abuse Investigation Teams (CAITs) as the CSU DI has recent CAIT experience.
  • A CSU Supervisor is contactable via a dedicated CSU mobile phone from 0800hrs to 2200hrs Monday to Friday, in order to give advice to response officers attending scenes of domestic violence. The purpose also is to ensure the correct action is taken at scenes and all urgent enquiries are carried out. The IBO staff also make use of this facility in order to have early intervention from CSU at serious domestic incidents.
  • In relation to Sapphire cases, the duty DS takes responsibility for ensuring an effective response and calls out a SOIT where applicable.
  • The Public Protection Detective Chief Inspector has developed a Domestic Violence Action Plan, in response to the challenge of improving performance in tackling domestic violence perpetrators. This incorporates evaluating the service delivery for domestic violence victims from first contact with Police through to the criminal justice outcome. It has initiated actions for SMT members to review practices as well as revise support provisions for delivering performance outcomes.

14. Work being done to ensure that the 124d form is used consistently across the borough in 100% of domestic violence cases and that the information it collects is being entered onto the relevant MPS IT systems:

  • All officers attending domestic incidents complete a Book 124d as per the Domestic Violence Standard Operating Procedures (DV SOPs). Greenwich CSU is based in Woolwich and not at the main charging station of Plumstead, therefore has adopted a local policy, whereby all 124d’s are deposited with the IBO. In order to maintain an audit, all 124d’s are entered into the book 105 in the IBO and given a reference number. The IBO supervisor then countersigns the book 105, confirming they have been handed the 124d. The compliance of 124d recording currently standards at 94% and all non-compliance is reported to Daily Management Meeting and actioned accordingly.
  • Upon collecting the 124d’s from Plumstead Police Station, they are then read by an experienced CSU police officer who also compares the content against the corresponding CRIS report to ensure basic standards are adhered to. Each 124d is then given a further CSU reference number, filed and stored in compliance with Management of Police Information (MOPI).
  • First line supervisors are also required to review both the 124d’s and the corresponding CRIS reports, by making the correct box in the new DV/Hate crime tab as well as record any outstanding actions on the DETS page. A CRIS search tool easily tracks compliance of this, however, early indication has shown that this supervision is developing and is influenced by the volume of calls the team has responded to as well as the number of sergeants on duty. The response team duties are due to change on 5th May 2009 which will equate to more sergeants being on duty at any one time. This will enable the sergeants the opportunity to supervise reports more readily. After this date, all reports and 124d’s not correctly supervised will be discussed at DMM.
  • CSU DS’s are responsible for ensuring that the initial investigating officers have complied with SOPs i.e. checking that the SPECSS+ risk assessment is clearly entered onto the CRIS report. This is an acronym for Separation / Child contact issues, Pregnancy / new birth, Escalation, Community Issues and Isolation, Stalking, Sexual Assault + mental health, threats to kill, suicide/homicide, alcohol/drugs. There is varying compliance with regards duplicating this risk assessment onto CRIS, however this is more recently addressed at DMM and there has been a noticeable improvement with compliance.
  • The CSU DI has recently begun giving a training input to all response team officers, to reinforce their understanding of the DV SOPs and to give them increased confidence to carry out informed risk assessments and react accordingly to safeguard the victim and any other party.
  • All new trainee Initial Police Learning Development Programme (IPLDP) officers being posted to Greenwich Borough have a four-week attachment with the CSU. This involves being allocated a mentor throughout this entire period, who guides and advises the officer through each and every stage of a Domestic or Hate crime investigation. At the end of the four weeks, the IPLDP officers have gleaned a notable amount of experience and are able to put this knowledge into practice upon being posted to response teams. This system has been operating since November 2008 and the feedback received has been extremely positive. The trainee officers not only have a much more detailed working knowledge of how the investigative process works, they can fully appreciate the importance of responding correctly at first contact with the victim and also have a confident approach to seeking advice from CSU or other CID departments in the future.

15. How Greenwich Borough support staff experiencing domestic violence and ensure staff perpetrators are held accountable:

  • Greenwich Borough staff are aware of and adhere to the corporate policy regarding MPS employees, who are suspects of domestic violence, rape and serious sexual offences. In such cases, the unit Detective Inspector will immediately liaise with Directorate of Professional Services (DPS) and TP Violent Crime Directorate to ensure full appraisal and a consistent approach. An assessment is made as to the suitability of this officer continuing to work in their current role and a written record of this assessment is submitted to the DPS. The case disposal decision is based on a thorough evaluation of all the evidence, as it would be for any other investigation. It is imperative that MPS staff members, who are suspects, are held accountable and are treated no differently than any other citizen. Nevertheless, irrespective of the disposal, there may be occasions where the officer cannot be allowed to continue working within their previous environment. The Greenwich Borough Senior Management Team (SMT), in consultation with DPS, makes this assessment. Over the last 12 months, RG have dealt with 4 staff members who were alleged perpetrators of DV, two of which resulted in no further action, the remaining two are still ongoing. The SMT re-enforce a key message that perpetrators of DV will not be tolerated and that victims will be given full support, which includes HR intervention where required.
  • The relevant CSU or Sapphire Team Detective Inspector ensures that immediate risk assessment issues are addressed and that the investigation is progressed by a person of higher rank or grading than the person being suspected. If the MPS staff member under investigation is a Greenwich officer, then the investigation is usually conducted by another borough. This is to ensure there is impartiality and maintain confidentiality. If the offence took place on a different borough to that where the suspect works, then the Borough Commanders for both areas are informed, as are Senior Managers, who can ensure welfare and Occupational Health (OH) support systems are in place.
  • Officers within the CSU are able to give confidential advice and report incidents where necessary for officers who have experienced domestic violence either personally or as a third party. There is no Borough process in place to enquire whether officers have been victims themselves, however the CSU and the Borough have created an environment whereby such concerns can be discussed on an individual basis and with complete confidentiality.

D. Resources and training

16. Number of posts within the Community Safety Unit:

  • Greenwich BOCU CSU currently have 26 officers comprising one Detective Inspector (DI), three Detective Sergeants (DS), one Police Sergeant (PS), one Acting Detective Sergeant (A/DS), two Detective Constables (DC), five Trainee Detective Constables (T/DC) and thirteen Police Constables (PC). The overall workforce target for the CSU is 1 DI, 4 DS’s and 23 Investigators, to a ratio of 12 DC’s or T/DC’s and 11 PC’s – a total of 28 it is therefore almost fully staffed at present.

17. Number of posts within the Sapphire Unit:

  • The Sapphire Team has one DI, one DS, six DC’s and four Sexual Offences Investigative Techniques (SOIT) officers, one of which is part time. The SOITs are experienced officers posted to the Sapphire Team and provide a 24-hour call out service, responding to and engaging with rape victims promptly, to ensure all evidence is captured at the earliest opportunity. The overall workforce target for the Sapphire Unit is 1 DI, 1 DS, 6 DC’s and 7 SOITs. This unit is on strength in DC’s but three SOITs short, this is managed by the rest of the SOIT’s to ensure the rota is staffed at all times, together with appropriately trained officers on attachment from Response policing teams.

18. Demographic Profile of CSU officers:

  • The demographics of CSU are; one male DI, three male DS’s, one male PS, one male A/DS, two male DC’s, two male and three female T/DC’s, six male and seven female PC’s. Four members of staff are from black and visible ethnic minority groups.

19. Demographic Profile of Sapphire officers:

  • The demographics of the Sapphire Team are; one male DI, one male DS, four male and two female DC’s and four female SOITs. There is one member of staff who is from black and visible ethnic minority groups.

20. Greenwich Borough successes and areas for improvement of Public Protection Desks:

  • Greenwich Public Protection Desk has recently been accredited and with the increased number of staff, has the capability to respond to Merlins with an investigative approach. Prior to this, with minimum staffing, their response upon receipt of a Merlin, was to carry out research checks and assessments. However they are now able to carry out joint visits with Children’s Social Workers and make co-ordinated decisions based on first hand assessments. They also seek to address child safety concerns by debriefing children who have been reported missing, in order to ascertain reasons behind them going missing together with heightening awareness around the dangers of being absent from home.

21. Training for CSU and Sapphire Team officers:

  • All substantive Detectives across both units are experienced officers who have all attended a Detective Training Course at Hendon. This course provides extensive insight into a number of different crime types, including domestic violence, rape and other serious sexual offences. Most of the Sapphire Detectives have previously worked on the CSU and some officers on the CSU have previously worked in the Sapphire Unit. This enables officers to have a thorough and comprehensive understanding of both roles and can easily adapt where necessary. Those officers, who have not undergone this extensive detective training, will not have received bespoke training on either domestic violence or sexual offences. However, a recent agreement has been reached where all Sapphire officers will attend one day CSU awareness courses, highlighting the SPECSS+ risk assessment model and the relevance of research and analysis in profiling domestic and sexual violence offenders. Reciprocally, all permanent CSU officers have undertaken, or have a space on a forthcoming, CSU investigators course, which is 5 days and covers all aspects of domestic and sexual violence, including scene preservation at serious violence incidents.

22. Training on Child Protection, Honour Based Violence, Forced Marriage, Stalking and Harassment and Victim Care:

  • Officers who have attended the Detective Training Course at Hendon have been trained on all of the above areas. Some of those officers who have not attended the Detective Training Course have attended one-day seminars on some of all of the above topics. Additionally, these elements are discussed during the 5-day CSU course, which most of the CSU officers have completed.

23. Percentage of staff / officers trained as above:

  • 100% of all Sapphire detectives are trained in the above. SOIT’s however, do not undergo such training as they are PC’s and have not received detective training. Similarly trained officers within the CSU equate to 52%. However, as stated above, a proportion of these untrained officers have attended one-day seminars on Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage and also experienced attachments to Child Abuse Investigation Teams (CAITs).

24. What equipment and training is available to support officers to collect best evidence at crime scenes at the time of response:

  • Both digital and ICEFLO (Immediate Capture of Evidence by Front Line Officers) cameras are available for all response officers attending scenes of crime in order to capture visual evidence to assist in the ongoing investigation. These are maintained within the IBO and are booked out by response officers, as and when required. There are currently not enough cameras for one per vehicle, but this issue is being addressed and a DS from the CSU is championing the cause for greater consistency in usage, as their effectiveness in interview is excellent.
  • Each police vehicle is equipped with Early Evidence Kits (EEK’s), which are used to obtain mouth swabs and urine samples for DNA and drug testing. The standard operating procedure for rape allegations is that a SOIT will be appointed within one hour and that 24-hour cover is provided. This ethos is maintained across Greenwich Borough, and is partly responsible for the sanction detection rate for rape finishing at 45.5% for 2008 – 2009, against a target of 37%. Officers are also able to make contact with the Local Crime Scene Examiner or Senior Borough Forensic Manager, for advice where necessary.

25. Training being delivered in partnership with the community:

  • Police and Social Workers jointly attend Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) courses, as it is imperative to have a co-joined approach to interviewing Children and Vulnerable Adults, when trying to obtain their best evidence for criminal proceedings.
  • Some CSU officers have also attended one-day courses held by Greenwich Safeguarding Children’s Board, covering topics such as ‘Attending Initial Child Protection Conferences’. These have enabled officers to provide accurate ‘information sharing’ at Child Protection (CP) Conferences, as well as raise awareness of CP issues within families. The additional benefit to this is better communication between Police and statutory partners and improved information flow.
  • Some CSU officers have attended similar training seminars held by Greenwich Safeguarding Adults Team, which promoted the work of the Vulnerable Adults team and allowed officers to appreciate the barriers for successful prosecutions. In reciprocation, CSU supervisors have provided input on Safeguarding Adults internal training days, ensuring their staff have a better understand of Police procedures, what constitutes a crime and when and how to report a crime.
  • In September 2008, the CSU DI and DS organised an internal training day for all CSU staff comprising of presentations from both outside agencies as well as MPS specialists. This included input from Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs), Representatives from Greenwich Women’s Refuge as well as services of Sanctuary and Homesafe Scheme. A further CSU training day is arranged for the end of May 2009, with again, a strong emphasis on Multi Agency working.

E. Partnership working and Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRP)

26. What is the overall budget of the CDRP? What is the funding dedicated to tackling domestic and sexual violence from within this figure?

  • The overall partnership budget for Greenwich was £524,018 and the proportion of this allocated to tackling Domestic Violence is £94,000. A large proportion of this funding is specifically to employ three Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) who are part of Woman’s Trust. There is no specific funding for sexual offences within Greenwich Borough.

27. Is Domestic and sexual violence a priority within the Crime and Disorder Strategy and how is it translated into action:

  • In Greenwich, the CDRP is called the Safer Greenwich Partnership (SGP) and one of their priority actions is to reduce most serious violence, including tackling serious sexual offences and domestic violence. The Borough Commander co-chairs the SGP with Councillor Chris Roberts, Leader of Greenwich Council. Membership includes Chief Executive levels from statutory authorities including; Council, Primary Care Trust (PCT), Probation (LPS), London Fire Brigade (LFB), Government Office for London (GOL), Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) as well as key individuals from relevant voluntary agencies. To support the long-term plan, the SGP devised a Domestic Violence Strategy for 2008-2011. This strategy aims to i) increase safe choices for women and children experiencing domestic violence, so that they might plan safer futures ii) hold individual abusers accountable for their behaviour in such a way that not only acts as a future deterrent for them, but also as a deterrent to potential other abusers iii) undermine social tolerance / approval of domestic violence by individuals or organisations iv) provide children and young people with the necessary knowledge and skills required to build relationships based on respect, mutual understanding, with shared power and commitment to non-violence: and safeguarding children affected by domestic violence.
  • The SGP recently recommended that the MARAC move from meeting monthly to fortnightly, in an attempt to meet the NI32 target of reducing repeat victimisation of domestic violence. Recognising the fact that many organisations supporting the MARAC do not have any additional resources to respond to this increase in work it is envisaged that with more streamlined internal training for each agency, the responsibility for referrals can be shared amongst all professionals, rather than those attending the MARAC. This will also heighten awareness of MARAC and the support interventions available.
  • To ensure the strategy is implemented and co-ordinated, the SGP established a Domestic Violence Project Management Board (DVPMB). This multi agency board of members meet regularly to ensure that actions are delivered and key milestones are achieved. The DVPMB work in partnership with the Greenwich Multi Agency Domestic Violence Forum (GMADVF) and membership of both is not mutually exclusive.

28. CDRP domestic and /or sexual violence projects in progress:

  • There are no sexual violence projects in progress at present. However, internally, there is currently large re-organisation in progress to move the management of all serious sexual assault investigations to be managed by Operation Sapphire under the command of the Specialist Crime Directorate (SCD).
  • In relation to domestic violence, there is currently consideration being given to initiating a ‘One Stop Shop’ service, allowing victims to report abuse as well as seek advice from support agencies, housing matters or family law. This is still in the discussion stage but the proposals are that this would be in addition to the current services provided for victims on the Borough.
  • Whilst not specifically a domestic and / or sexual violence project Greenwich Police have established a Violent and Organised Crime Unit (VOCU) to deal with ‘gang issues’ within the Borough, this Unit is staffed with a DI, 3 DSs and 15 investigators, together with an office manager and crime analyst. This Unit is funded by the Local Authority for a two year period at a cost of £2.2 million and was established as a result of a significant rise in offences of violence in mid 2007, including the rape of a 15 year old girl whilst being threatened with possible use of a firearm. (The two accused were subsequently convicted at the Inner London Crown Court and sentenced to substantial terms of imprisonment). There was other intelligence obtained as a result of the reactive investigations into the violence in 2007 which indicated that gang members and potential recruits were forcing vulnerable young women to perform sexual acts which were recorded on mobile telephones. Since the establishment of the VOCU in May 2008 there have been no direct reports of sexual assaults involving gang members and no intelligence from numerous mobile telephones that have been seized that such acts are being committed.

29. How Greenwich BOCU works in Partnerships with voluntary and statutory sector agencies locally: Reasons behind particularly successful partnerships:

  • The primary Partner that the Sapphire Team work with is The Haven, based at Kings College Hospital. If a victim of sexual violence reports to police then a trained SOIT officer is assigned to that individual and the services of The Haven are offered. Appropriate support, including chaperoning to The Haven, is provided. The local Sapphire Team also receive notifications where victims have self referred to The Haven and potential forensic samples have been obtained. In appropriate cases the allocated SOIT will contact the victim and offer advice and guidance. Direct feedback from the local Borough SOIT co-ordinator reports that the service provided by The Haven is ‘fantastic’ and that the borough has a ‘good working relationship’ with them.
  • One key support mechanism domestic or sexual violence victims rely on is the Greenwich Sanctuary Project, which provides a safe haven for people, mainly women and children, who would otherwise become homeless due to the abuse. This service provides enhanced security on an emergency basis; this can include creating a safe inner ‘sanctuary room’ where the family can remain safely until police arrive. This is an additional secure ‘barrier’ to prevent and deter a perpetrator from gaining entry, or to delay his entry whilst the police are called to assist. It is managed by Victim Support Greenwich Homesafe Project and supported by a multi agency steering group of Council, Police, Probation and specialist DV agencies.

Police data on Sanctuary clients indicates that:

  • 64% had no further incidents reported to police
  • 23% had reported incidents where the perpetrator attended the property but did not gain entry
  • 5% had been assaulted after allowing the perpetrator entry into the property
  • 3% had been assaulted after the perpetrator forced entry into the property
  • 5% had been victims of incidents that occurred away from the home
  • Sanctuary has been effective in protecting 87% of clients from repeat domestic violence and abuse in the home.

After VSG Sanctuary / Homesafe Project has up-graded the resident’s property, they can also refer them to other agencies for further support if required:

  • Free Panic Button (if landline is available) - Greenwich Community Alarm Service.
  • Floating Support: Women’s Aid, Women’s Refuge (also Black African & Caribbean Refuge), Women’s Advocacy Trust.
  • Age Concern – General assistance for the elderly victims
  • London Fire Brigade – Fire safety advice and assistance
  • Greenwich Neighbourhood Offices – liaise with tenant for further support & help
  • Victim Support Greenwich – General support and contact.

The Sanctuary Service is overseen by a Multi Agency Steering Group which includes the above service providers together with police. This steering group has developed procedures, referral arrangements and facilitated in the practical implementation and management of the service. Multi Agency working is facilitated by the Greenwich Multi-Agency Domestic Violence Panel which agrees interventions to prevent domestic violence in high risk and complex cases, and frequently uses Sanctuary as one of a range of options to reduce risk.

  • In relation to serious sexual offences, the Sapphire unit is beginning to work with the Local Council in order to protect victims of crime by supporting house moves for vulnerable victims. There is also initial discussion around the Council to support police in funding a comfort suite for rape victims, where victims could be taken prior to medical examination.

F. Work with victims and communities

30. How Greenwich Borough monitors service user satisfaction and seeks feedback from victims / survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and then integrates any improvements into policy and practice:

  • There are no formal arrangements to monitor domestic violence victim satisfaction per se; however the CSU DI regularly receives feedback from IDVAs, regarding victims’ perceptions of police response. These comments are disseminated to the individual officers concerned in order that good work is recognised. However, if the feedback relates to areas for improvement for which the entire CSU team and other staff could benefit, then de-personalised information is disseminated.
  • The Sanctuary Scheme performs telephone surveys to assess service user satisfaction. They have used this information to support the request for a continuation of funding, to allow the Scheme to continue into the next financial year. The survey established that 87% of clients found support services helpful.
  • For Sapphire investigations, there is a corporate user satisfaction survey. In addition, the SOIT officer remains with the victim throughout the entire investigation process and tailor victim support appropriate to their particular needs. SOIT co-ordinators are employed to ensure that all SOITs deliver the best customer service to sexual assault victims as possible. Any feedback relating to Sapphire investigations is collated through the co-ordinator and passed onto the Sapphire Unit DI, who assesses the validity of the feedback and respond if appropriate.

31. Proportion of cases where victim impact statements are taken:

  • Sapphire officers seek to undertake victim impact statements in every case proceeding through the criminal justice system
  • IDVAs can sometimes be utilised to assist with taking victim impact statements for domestic violence victims, however such statements are often only taken when there is a long cycle of abuse, where we can detail the emotional affect the crime has had on the victim and their entire family / life.

32. How the BOCU ensures that victims are provided with regular updates on cases and informed quickly of any changes or decisions (particularly those which may impact on their safety):

  • The Sapphire Unit DI has set up a system where all contact with victims is logged in a file by the SOIT officers. The SOITs then have a responsibility for updating the Victim Codes of Practice (VCOP) page on the relevant crime report.
  • Similarly, VCOP is updated every time a domestic violence victim is spoken to. This record is auditable and therefore searches can be run to ensure compliance.

33. How the BOCU ensures compliance with the Victims Code of Practice:

  • Performance in this area is monitored by TP Operation Emerald – the BOCU Commander is held accountable for performance in this area. The Continuous Improvement Unit (CIU), measures VCOP compliance. The results are broken into teams and published on the shared drive for all staff to access. All Greenwich management members receive the data for thematic discussion at DMM. This process has enabled team managers to identify officers who regularly fail to update their victims and respond appropriately. Performance against VCOP is a key performance indicator, further reviewed and discussed at the monthly Senior Management Team Meeting and the bi-monthly Borough Management Meeting (for Inspectors / Band D and above).

34. How the BOCU builds trust and confidence with hard-to-reach communities, particularly around sensitive cultural issues such as forced marriage and ‘honour’ based violence:

  • Greenwich Police are aiming to set up a Police Information Point (PIP) initially at one site, but with a view to expanding to other public venues across the Borough. The objective is for a Police representative to be present, alongside a council worker, to provide information and advice, preventing members of the public from having to enter a Police building.
  • In addition to this, the borough is arranging Safer Neighbourhood and Community Safety surgeries to address a range of issues, one of which is domestic violence in an attempt to fully engage with all victims, including under represented BME groups. Specialist officers from Community Safety Unit will support these surgeries and their aim is to raise awareness and encourage reporting. The first event of its kind is to be held in Spring 2009 (exact date yet to be arranged).
  • The Greenwich Safer Neighbourhood and Partnership Support Inspector is fully integrated in projects to engage with hard to reach communities. One such example is setting up a Muslim Women’s forum, where the views and concerns of women are sought and recognised and specific advice can be supplied, empowering them to challenge their concerns. The first such meeting was arranged for April 2009, but the feedback from this is not yet available. Another example is CSU presence at similar forthcoming events highlighting Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage issues. These will aim to engage with members of the public who may be experiencing such issues, or encourage third party reporting where there are concerns raised by another.

G. Organisational improvement

35. Recommendations from homicide reviews or serious case reviews and how they have been implemented:

  • There was one domestic related murder on Greenwich Borough for the period 1st April 2008 - 31st March 2009. This related to a male killing his female partner, and then killing himself. There was no recorded previous domestic history between these two parties and findings and recommendations have yet to be developed through the Homicide Review.
  • Greenwich Borough has experienced domestic murders in previous years, the recommendations of which have been fed into the SMT for action for improvement. One such domestic murder in 2006 highlighted that officers did not routinely check for previous DV incidents prior to attending. Since then, the IBOS ensured that checks are carried out and the resulting information relayed to front line officers, in order for them to make a more knowledgeable decision regarding action to take.

36. In cases of ‘honour’ based violence, has the HBV Action Plan proved fit for purpose? Comments for improvement:

  • The HBV Action Plan enables officers to clearly identify with the situation and recognise the risks posed by not acting correctly at the time of first reporting. There are clear, practical and mandatory guidelines, such as speaking with the individual alone and seeking advice from specialist support agencies, thereby assisting in identifying risks and ensuring the victim’s safety. Equal emphasis is placed on the fact that the officers are reminded not to send the subject away claiming it is not a Police matter. It provides them with the confidence to further investigate and treat the concern seriously. The contact details are also very useful for specific advice and have proved useful in Greenwich crimes.
  • The Forced Marriage Protection Order leaflets are also very useful for distribution to victims of such crimes.

37. Example of good practice or local initiative, which can be used by the Violent Crime Directorate to be shared with other Boroughs as good practice. How this is integrated into policy:

  • All dv crime reports are read to ensure that those recorded as Non Crime Book, do not contain matters of a criminal nature, which may have been incorrectly recorded. Despite these not requiring protracted enquiries, CSU officers have recently begun to carry out more in depth research and interrogate the CRIS system identifying repeat victims and responding accordingly. Although this scheme is in its infancy, CSU officers are now visiting victims of such incidents with a view to establishing the reason for the repeat calls to police and seeking to address the issue or offer an appropriate alternative. For example, a small proportion of persons are responsible for a large proportion of repeat calls to police, very few of which relate to crimes. On research, it is often established that there is an underlying cause such as drug or alcohol dependency. The aim is to signpost these individuals to relevant support agencies who can assist and ideally prevent them from calling Police unnecessarily. If successful in reducing the calls to Police, this would not only save officers’ time, it also aims to reduce seriousness and improve victim and children’s’ safety.

38. What single improvement do the BOCU think the MPS could make which would greatly improve the response to domestic and sexual violence locally:

  • The move towards centralising all Sapphire Investigations under the Specialist Crime Directorate (SCD) is perceived to be a positive one, which will enhance the consistency of service delivery to victims of crime.
  • Domestic violence equates to a very large proportion of reported crime across the entire MPS, yet the time dedicated to delivering training on this topic at Initial Recruit Training School is minimal. Although there is an entire week dedicated to Public Protection during the probationer period, it is the belief that the collective Police response to domestic violence would be more consistent and considered if more in depth training was made available to new recruits on the risks and implications of the long term cycle of such abuse.

H. Equality and diversity statement

  • The Domestic Violence Strategy, as defined by the SGP, encompassed an Equality Impact Assessment, in order to consider the impact this strategy has in respect of the six equality strands – age, disability, gender, race, religion / faith and sexual orientation. Actions to ensure equality have encompassed the following a) consideration of new options for improving choices for places of safety for vulnerable older people and disabled people who are at risk b) increasing housing and support options for women with substance abuse needs c) providing and distributing advice material regarding domestic violence in numerous languages d) providing ongoing funding for an Asian Women’s refuge e) supporting an advocacy service for disabled people f) recommending continued funding for Metro, a local LGBT organisation supporting LGBT people.
  • Since January 2009, Greenwich BOCU has initiated a new Forum called the Greenwich Equalities Group (GEG), formed of a wide range of Police Staff and Police Officers. They have determined their terms of reference, some of which include aiming to support the MPS Equalities Scheme and the Greenwich Diversity Action Plan, explore and challenge Diversity and Equality within service delivery, influence the communication strategy and liaise with internal and external stakeholder to deliver the Local Action Plan.
  • The CSU DI jointly co-ordinates a team of 5 Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Liaison Officers (LO’s), who have responsibility for promoting the reporting of homophobic and transphobic hate crime within LGBT people, as well as being a point of contact for victims of such crime during and after investigations. These officers make contact with LGBT victims of crime (as recorded by the CRIS system), informing them of the LO service and maintaining contact with the victim at all stages of the investigation. The LO’s also engage with the LGBT community at various public events throughout the year, promoting the Police Service and heightening awareness. The feedback from this has been positive and as a result, reporting of homophobic crime has increased by almost double this financial year. It is strongly believed that this is solely due to the increase confidence in Police and not as a result of increase violence towards LGBT people. This assessment has been made in conjunction with outside stakeholders as well as LO’s perception.

Contact details

Report author(s): Detective Inspector Sam Price, MPS

For more information contact:

MPA general: 020 7202 0202
Media enquiries: 020 7202 0217/18

Send an e-mail linking to this page