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This is report 1c from the 15 February 2011 meeting of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Board, reporting Domestic and Sexual violence to MPS Front Counters

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Reporting Domestic and Sexual violence to MPS Front Counters

Report: 1c
Report for the Domestic and Sexual Violence Board
Date: 15 February 2011
By: Inspector Alison Versluys.


This report provides an update on specific issues that arose at the MPA Domestic and Sexual Violence Board on 13 July 2010 regarding the reporting of domestic and sexual violence at MPS Front Counters and the training provision and first response to domestic and sexual violence.

A. Recommendation

1. That members note the contents of this report.

B. Supporting information

Background to report

1. On 13 July 2010 the MPS presented to the MPA Domestic and Sexual Violence Board (DSVB) on call handling and first response with regard to victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual offences. This included the first response at MPS front counters. The presentation included information on staff and police officer training and guidance, the proportion of all domestic and sexual violence reported to MPS front counters in the financial year 2009 to 2010, performance and customer satisfaction information.

2. The Domestic and Sexual Violence Board requested a follow up report on a number of issues (outlined in Appendix 1). Feedback on the primary issues is outlined in the sections below.

SCD 2 Satisfaction and Standards Unit Update

3. During the period of October to December 2010 64 responses were received in relation to feedback from victims of serious sexual assault about the services provided by the MPS. 91% (58) of the respondents were completely or very satisfied with the way they were treated initially by the police. Similarly 92% (58) were satisfied, either very or completely, with the treatment from the SOIT officer.

4. When asked about overall treatment from both initial police officers and SOIT officers, 95% (55) of respondents were satisfied that officers kept them informed and 93% (54) were satisfied that officers made contact easy. Further, 96% (50) were satisfied that officers took appropriate action in their case (an increase on last quarter’s 84%), and 90% (18) were satisfied that police asked about their fears of safety.
5 All respondents reported that the officer that initially dealt with them had taken the matter seriously, and appeared to know what they were doing. 98% (62) reported polite, sympathetic and courteous treatment, and 98% (62) were told to expect further contact.

6. From an ‘initial response’ point of view the feedback has remained consistent throughout 2010, the last quarter largely reflecting previous feedback. No trends or specific learning needs in particular locations or roles have been identified. This continues to be monitored.

Improved Training Provision

7. The initial recruit foundation course material in relation to Domestic Violence was reviewed in November 2010 by MPS subject matter experts and updated to include the package on Domestic Abuse, Stalking/Harassment and Honour Based Violence (DASH). A similar package was also developed as part of the special constable training course.

8. In addition to classroom based sessions new recruits undertake continuation training which includes a one week module on Public Protection which incorporates Domestic Violence, Honour Based Violence, Protecting Vulnerable Adults and Every Child Matters. The week includes training in a Hydra facility where students undertake practical sessions dealing with various scenarios dealing with public protection issues. Hydra training incorporates a number of different types of immersive exercises dealing with critical incident decision making at all levels of the organisation. The methodologies have evolved over twenty years and are now operating in over sixty suites across the UK and Internationally, both within the police and partner organisations.

9. Mandatory specialist training incorporating the DASH package is in place for all officers working on Community Safety Units. Training for Borough trainers was also provided so that the DASH package could be cascaded locally at a Borough level.

10. A significant change programme is ongoing to re-structure and improve the delivery of training across the MPS. Whilst the content of training has been improved over the last six months, initial discussion has taken place with Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA) to identify resources that may be used to further assist in relevant areas. Once the new MPS training model and structures have been established, this opportunity will be explored further.

11. To further assist in the initial receipt of calls, all Central Communications Command (CCC) staff receive training in respect of the Sapphire Command and are made aware of the services offered by the Havens.

12 CCC operators receive bespoke training regarding the triage and management of domestic violence and sexual violence - this is addition to risk analysis training. The first level of supervision involves live time monitoring of 40 calls per day, including DV allegations. Of those reviewed, 89% were of a ‘good’ standard (using HMIC methodology).

13. As part of the overall CCC continuous improvement programme, personal indicators have been set for all staff around the response to domestic violence calls. A daily dip sample is made of all calls which carry either a DV Incident or DV crime category code, this ensures they are recorded in accordance with National Contact Management Strategy (NCMS) standards. The CCC Senior Leadership Team reviews the standards and quality of all calls on a daily basis as part of the performance structures.

Improvements in Referral procedures to Havens

14. Improvements were made in September 2010 to reports made to the Police via the weekly SOIT clinics to ensure a more timely response to victims and feedback to haven staff about case progression.

15. For 2011/12 following changes in NHS restructuring, funding allocations and management of budgets, NHS Specialist Commissioning is being introduced in respect of the three London Havens. The MPS are working very closely with Haven managers in Camberwell, Paddington and Whitechapel. Regular meetings to set up Commissioning Services have been held seeking to ensure greater consistency in service delivery pan London. Examples of improvements which will be documented in the Haven Service Specifications include the following:

  • New information sharing agreement aimed at ensuring Haven staff understanding of intelligence (including MPS training for Haven staff) and data collection to support greater understanding of reporting patterns and offending.
  • New procedures to monitor the timeliness and outcomes of Haven self referrals and ensuring an effective feedback loop between the MPS and Haven staff.
  • Improved communications between Havens and MPS staff with a revised policy regarding Quality of Service Reports (QSR’s)
  • Research regarding paediatric cover pan London
  • Pilot scheme has been conducted at Paddington Haven identifying and managing risks to Haven self referral DV victims not wishing police involvement.

16. Haven Specialist Commissioned Services are intended to be in place for the beginning of the financial year 2011-12.

Response to Domestic and Sexual Violence

17. Since April 2010 Central Communications Command has been working with Boroughs to improve the timeliness of initial response to DV calls. There continues to steady progress improving both initial responses to ‘Immediate’ graded calls (requiring attendance in 12 minutes) and ‘Significant’ graded calls (requiring attendance in 60 minutes). In both cases the differentials in response times has been reduced. (Appendix 4 outlines current performance in respect of response to DV incidents.) It should be noted that call handling times for such calls can be longer owing to the sensitive nature of these incidents and the support required by the victim, leading to longer response times.

18. The nature of domestic violence calls require a more sensitive approach from the communications officer who takes the call and this builds in extended times in relation to despatch. The quality of our response is assessed daily at CCC and monthly as part of strategic Key Performance Review meetings.

Learning in relation to Gold Groups

19. A ‘Gold Group’ is a meeting to control, consult and co-ordinate the response (police and partners) to a specific incident. This involves bringing together appropriately skilled and qualified stakeholders who advise, guide and support the management of an effective response.

20. Gold Groups can be chaired by any qualified member of the MPS. Meetings chaired by ACPO rank are reviewed at the monthly Organisational Risk Meeting in respect of immediate strategic learning and issues.

21. The Critical Incident Advisory Team (CIAT) also reviews Critical Incidents that are referred to them by ACPO. The CIAT identify good practice, recognise where organisational learning is required and make recommendations. The ACPO officer is responsible for implementing any recommendations.

22. The initial response and any involvement with front counter staff has also been assessed as part of the review. Recommendations have included the delivery of training in Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA) awareness to all relevant first responders particularly Station Reception Officers (SROs), Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)

23. Additional recommendations have included developing a corporate response to recognising and investigating honour based violence. In addition, Safeguarding Adult operating procedures for adult victims of crime have also been revised. Golden hour principles and critical incident training has also been rolled out to all front line staff with emphasis on the forensic and empathy/support.

BME communities’ use of front counters

24. The profile of victims and informants that report crime has been obtained through CRIS (the MPS crime reporting database). During the 2009 to 2010 fiscal year 15% of crimes were reported at front counters. 36.4% of victims of total crime reported to the MPS are from BME communities while 41.2% of victims who report crime via the front counter are from BME communities.

25. 19.5% of victims of rape and sexual offences combined reported to the front counter (24% of rape victims) with 24% of BME victims reporting at the front counter compared to 18% non-BME victims. 14.7% of victims of domestic violence reported to the front counter with 16.7% of BME victims reporting to the front counter compared to 13.3% of non-BME victims.

26. The London Census records 32.5% of residents as BME.

27. In 2008 the MPS commissioned MVA Consultancy, a private company, to conduct a comprehensive observation and survey at two front counters in Hounslow and Camden B/OCUs to capture all activity over a five day period. Of the 5160 visitors, 51 % were BME and 49% were white European. 17% of all the visitors attended to report crime. The following are some of the findings from the research.

28. The proportion of visitors who were most often served by front counter staff were Arabic, Egyptian and Chinese or Japanese visitors (92% to 98%).

29. There was little difference in the time that men and women spent being served although there were differences in the time spent being served by age, ethnicity, disability and sexuality none of these differences was found to be statistically significant.

30. Visitors were asked whether they would have preferred their enquiry to be dealt with by another means other than visiting the police station. Of those who answered, nearly 70% said they would not have preferred any other option over visiting the police station. Of those who would have preferred another option over half said they would have preferred the issue to be dealt with over the phone. Variations by gender, age, ethnicity, disability and sexuality were not significant.

31. Visitors were asked how satisfied they were with the overall service they received. 79% were very or fairly satisfied. 10% were dissatisfied. Satisfaction was linked to waiting times. Differences in satisfaction levels by gender, ethnicity and disability were not statistically different.

32. An explanation as to the reason for the levels of BME communities’ use of front counters as a reporting mechanism cannot be fully ascertained without extensive research. The Front Counter Review is developing a Community Engagement Strategy in order to undertake engagement with external stakeholders and community groups. A survey will also be used to capture the experience and views of the public as well as diversity data. This will assist in our understanding of the profile of customers and their needs, reasons for attending or not attending the front counter, suggestions for improvements and other preferred methods of contacting the police.

City of London initiatives

33. Initiatives have been undertaken to improve the quality of service to victims of these offences.

34. There are three police stations in the City of London. Wood Street Police Station has a ‘soft’ room where victims can report crime in comfort and privacy. Bishopsgate Police Station has a dedicated ‘Phoenix Suite’ which is a secure and comfortable environment where victims are taken to provide statements. Replacement clothing and other necessities are provided.

35. Police vehicles used to transport victims have blacked out windows in order to ensure privacy.

36. Front counter staff make an initial assessment of information from victims who allege offences of domestic violence, rape or sexual assault. The investigation is then passed to a Police Officer or officer from the PPU as soon as practicable. Front counter staff also receive regular formal training from the PPU alongside front line staff in such subjects as HBV.

37. Front counter supervisors attend a Protection of Adults working group alongside representatives of vulnerable groups, such as Victim Support, in order to develop ownership and raise awareness.

38. A Domestic Abuse, Stalking, Harassment and Honour Based Violence Incident (DASH) booklet has been devised for completion by the investigating officer. The booklet includes a tear out page with information for the victim such as the contact number for the National Centre for Domestic Violence.

39. Her Majesties Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) reported that the City of London response to rape was ‘excellent’. Crime volumes are significantly lower in proportion to the MPS. The total number of rapes reported in the MPS from November 2009 to November 2010 was 3,208 compared to nine in the City of London.

Private rooms in front counters

40. The Front Counter Review team, in conjunction with the DPA and external advice, have designed a sign with the wording: “If you need to speak confidentially please ask a member of front counter staff”. The intention will be to install a permanent sign which will be visible to customers’ at all front counters which have a private room available. In the interim, B/OCUs have been sent a poster with the same wording which they have been instructed to display in the front counter.

41. Crime can be reported at all front counters in the MPS. There are no separate or dedicated reporting facilities.

42. The Reception Services manual, which is produced for the guidance of staff, is being rewritten to ensure that processes are more efficient and ‘customer friendly’. New guidance is being developed in conjunction with Serious Crime Directorate (SCD2) Sapphire Unit regarding the initial investigation into allegations of rape and sexual offences. The guidance will include a link to the standard operating procedures, essential first steps and contact telephone numbers for the Havens.

43. The MVA survey in 2008 at Camden and Hounslow B/OCUs surveyed customers about suggested improvements. 24% of women customers thought front counters needed more privacy compared to 11% of men.

B/OCU reporting facilities

44. Information regarding the availability all interview rooms or other private rooms at front counter in the MPS has been collated. Of the 138 front counters, 24 do not have an interview room although other rooms may be available. Of these 24, 11 are in front counters that are operated by Met Volunteers only, two are in Safer Neighbourhood front counters and two are co-located with other public services in Civic Centres. All 24 locations have very low footfall.

45. Front Counter service delivery in the MPS is currently under review and these factors will be taken into account in any recommendations that are made about the future of the premises.

Front counter triage

46. In the MPS 17 B/OCUs operate a system of triage in one or more of their front counters using police officers, staff or Met Volunteers. As well as being an effective system of managing queues the advantage of triage is that it is a method of identifying victims of serious crimes at the earliest stage and allowing staff to deal with them promptly and thoroughly.

47. B/OCUs provided positive feedback regarding such a system and this is supported by data from the User Satisfaction Survey (USS). In the second quarter of 2010 to 2011, in response to the question ‘Did you get to speak to someone in a reasonable time?’ 93% of those attending a B/OCU with triage answered ‘Yes’ compared with 90% of those attending a B/OCU without. Overall satisfaction rate was 90% with triage and 88% without triage.

Proportion of domestic violence reporting in financial year 2009 to 2010

48. Domestic violence reports represent 6% of all crime reported to the MPS. 14.7% of domestic violence reports are made at the front counter. The highest proportion of reports to the front counter are made at Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Harrow and Brent B/OCUs. The lowest proportion of reports are made at Bexley, Kingston upon Thames, Greenwich, Hillingdon, Sutton and Wandsworth B/OCUs. (See Appendix 2 for full details)

Proportion of rape and sexual offences reporting in financial year 2009 to 2010

49. Rape and sexual offence reports represent 1.3% of all crimes reported to the MPS. 19.5% of rape and sexual offences are made at the front counter. The highest proportion of reports to the front counter are made at Newham, Redbridge, Enfield and Brent B/OCUs. The lowest proportion of reports are made at Camden, Barnet and Richmond upon Thames B/OCUs. (See Appendix 3 for full details.)

Waiting times

50. Victims of crime who respond to the User Satisfaction Survey (USS) are asked over 80 questions about their experience of their contact with the police of which five apply to front counter service delivery.

51. Since 2007 overall satisfaction ratings have improved. Since 2009 the percentage of customers waiting for less than 10 minutes has increased from 65% to 70%.

52. The USS also provides rates of overall satisfaction with ease of contact. In 2007 the front counter satisfaction rate of ‘fairly or very satisfied’ was 87%. By comparison, satisfaction with the ‘999’ service was 87% and for other phone calls the figure was 86%. In 2010, satisfaction with front counters had risen to 89%, 999 calls to 92% and other calls to 94%.

53. The MVA survey in 2008 at Camden and Hounslow B/OCUs indicated that one in three visitors were seen immediately, with only 4% waiting over 30 minutes.

C. Other organisational & community implications

Equality and Diversity Impact

1. BME communities are over represented in reporting crime at the front counter. An Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) is being undertaken as part of the Front Counter Review which will highlight this and a number of issues that need to be taken into account. The Community Engagement Strategy and internal and external stakeholder engagement will ensure that impacts raised under the EIA are fully considered. This report highlights the ways that lessons learned are fed back into training. All MPS staff receive mandatory training in Equality and Diversity.

Consideration of MET Forward

2. Front Counters and all public contact is currently undergoing a review, the purpose of which is to increase confidence in policing services and to improve efficiency delivering those services with better value for money. These are at the core of the MPA vision of how the MPS is to develop and perform.

Financial Implications

3. All activity that is currently being undertaken by the TP Development Programme is covered within TP’s existing budget. There are no financial implications arising from this report.

Legal Implications

4. This report is for information only, therefore there are no direct legal implications arising.

Environmental Implications

5. There are no direct environmental implications.

Risk Implications

6. There are no risk implications associated with this report.

Background papers


Appendix 1

DSVB outstanding actions

  • DR/CCC to identify how the SCD2 victim feedback and the Confidence, Satisfaction and Standards Unit activity outlined in the report have had or will influence service delivery.
  • DR/CCC to review training provision in respect of first response to domestic and sexual violence and feed into the TP review the concerns of the DSVB.
  • DR/CCC to liaise with Diana Barren/ CAADA to improve training materials.
  • DSVB to be updated on performance management of domestic violence and sexual offences calls and what activity is taken to improve the level of calls considered of a satisfactory standard.
  • DSVB to be updated on ways in which HBV issues can be incorporated into training.
  • DR/CCC and Havens Managers to identify potential improvements for referral procedures.
  • DSVB to be updated on outcomes of OCU Commander review.
  • DSVB to be updated on learning in relation to Gold Groups on front counters, first response and call handling.
  • DR/CCC to provide an explanation of disproportionate levels of BME communities’ use of front counters as a reporting mechanism.
  • DR to contact City of London police to identify possible learning in relation to improving reporting at front counter.
  • DR/CCC to update DSVB on how members of the public are informed about private rooms and other appropriate reporting facilitates across all front counters.
  • MPS to identify any boroughs which do not have appropriate reporting facilities and outline steps to address these.
  • DR/CCC to update DSVB on which boroughs use triage, and whether this has been successful.
  • DR/CCC to provide further information on domestic violence and sexual violence reporting volume as a proportion of all reporting in each borough, as well as further information on waiting times.

Appendix 2

Proportion of domestic violence reports

B/OCU Domestic violence reports Reported to Front Counter Percentage
Barking and Dagenham 2012 296 15%
Barnet 1408 200 14%
Bexley 1381 140 10%
Brent 2088 376 18%
Bromley 1826 235 13%
Camden 919 133 15%
City of Westminster 1341 207 15%
Croydon 2560 329 13%
Ealing 2196 376 17%
Enfield 1678 218 13%
Greenwich 2104 261 12%
Hackney 1907 291 15%
Hammersmith 1191 197 16%
Haringey 1579 247 16%
Harrow 1297 234 18%
Havering 1097 170 15%
Hillingdon 1958 244 12%
Hounslow 1895 317 17%
Islington 1482 218 15%
Kensington and Chelsea 685 42 17%
Kingston upon Thames 664 72 11%
Lambeth 1890 265 14%
Lewisham 2345 300 13%
Merton 1048 244 14%
Newham 2304 313 14%
Redbridge 1285 240 19%
Richmond upon Thames 631 98 16%
Southwark 2568 371 14%
Sutton 984 118 12%
Tower Hamlets 1751 268 15%
Waltham Forest 1860 391 21%
Wandsworth 1757 206 12%

Appendix 3

Proportion of rape and sexual offence reports

B/OCU Rape and sexual offence reports Reported to Front Counter Percentage
Barking and Dagenham 265 47 18%
Barnet 318 50 16%
Bexley 179 30 17%
Brent 313 73 23%
Bromley 278 43 15%
Camden 305 38 12%
City of Westminster 514 100 19%
Croydon 452 98 22%
Ealing 336 70 21%
Enfield 343 80 23%
Greenwich 396 75 19%
Hackney 464 84 18%
Hammersmith 218 46 21%
Haringey 346 60 17%
Harrow 207 38 18%
Havering 223 42 19%
Hillingdon 298 52 17%
Hounslow 281 58 21%
Islington 267 45 17%
Kensington and Chelsea 157 31 20%
Kingston upon Thames 149 33 22%
Lambeth 557 96 17%
Lewisham 373 74 20%
Merton 186 40 22%
Newham 461 109 24%
Redbridge 234 55 24%
Richmond upon Thames 135 21 16%
Southwark 466 80 17%
Sutton 195 43 22%
Tower Hamlets 336 75 22%
Waltham Forest 312 64 21%
Wandsworth 337 68 20%

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