This is report 2 from the 15 February 2011 meeting of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Board, Barnet report.
Warning: This is archived material and may be out of date. The Metropolitan Police Authority has been replaced by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC).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.
Report for the Domestic and Sexual Violence Board
Date: 15 February 2011
Report by: Chief Superintendent Neil Basu, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Roycroft, Detective Inspector Caroline Haines SCD2 and Detective Inspector Alison Turner CSU
B1: Report to MPA Domestic and Sexual Violence Board
1.1 Domestic Violence reports have been reducing steeply for 5 years. Since 2005/6 offences have gone down by 31.3%. In 2010, reports dropped by 10.2% in contrast with both London (-1%) and the North West Sector of London (+4.9%). Out of 32 London boroughs, Barnet had the 9th lowest volume of DV offences in 2010 and the 13th lowest volume of DV offences in 2009. With a 17.6% decrease from 2009 to 2010, this was the second biggest fall in London outside Merton (27%). With 3.55 DV offences per 1000 population in 2010, Barnet had the second lowest offences per 1000 population behind Richmond-Upon-Thames (3.39) (see Appendix 1 for Barnet population profile)
.2 Given its population size, and the fact that DV does not discriminate by ethnicity or faith, Barnet’s Safer Communities Partnership absolutely accepts that under-reporting of DV is a serious problem and is a key driver to its strategic response. The diversity of the borough represents a significant challenge due to cultural inhibitors in even established communities and the lack of penetration by public services and the third sector into emerging communities.
1.3 Two years ago Barnet was subject to two reviews of its DV practice, one internal by London Borough of Barnet and one external by Anthony Wills of ‘Standing Together.’ They broadly agreed and highlighted serious shortcomings, most particularly in strategic direction, leadership and governance, disjointed (Independent Domestic Violence Advocate) IDVA support and an immature (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) MARAC. These points prevented Barnet’s application to Government Office for London for Special Domestic Violence Court status. A 41 point action plan was agreed but never advanced, (principally because of the very criticisms raised by the reviews).
1.4 Barnet CSU exceeds both Sanctioned Detection and Arrest rate targets for 2009/10 for domestic violence offences. This financial year the CSU are currently achieving 60.8% Sanction Detection rate, the target is 47%. The current arrest rate is 81.3%, the target is 77%. SCD2 performance targets are concentrated on stranger 1 and stranger 2 rapes. To date in this performance year SCD2 have an overall sanction detection rate of 11%.
B2: Policy compliance and quality assurance
How does the BOCU and SCD2 use risk assessment and risk management tools to ensure victims/survivors are made safer, and that perpetrators are made accountable for their behaviour?
2.1 Barnet BOCU uses the MPS Domestic Violence Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) as its mandate for risk assessment and risk management tools. All calls to Police via the 999 system relating to domestic incidents are graded as Type ‘29’. This ensures that officers are immediately aware of the nature of the incidents they are attending and therefore are prepared to put in place the requirements of the SOP’s. After dealing with immediate safety concerns the initial reporting officers’ establish the details of the incident. If a criminal offence is evident and the perpetrator is present the MPS positive action policy is implemented and unless there are exceptional circumstances the perpetrator is arrested and removed from the scene.
2.2 In all cases the initial reporting officers use the 124D to record all information; they follow the ‘SPECSS+’ model. This information is reviewed when transferring the details to the CRIS report and reporting officers bring immediately to the attention of their supervisors and/or a Community Safety Unit (CSU) officer any incidents that have been graded medium or high risk. All reports are reviewed by the reporting officers’ line manager. The reports are then put through the Crime Management Unit; they provide another check to ensure the risk assessment made is appropriate and pass the report to the CSU gatekeeper, an experienced Detective Sergeant. The contingency on late turn is that the duty Detective Sergeant is personally made aware if any cases requiring immediate actions and safety considerations.
2.3 Should the reporting officers be unable to affect the arrest of the perpetrator immediately and details of their whereabouts are known, a request is made for the uniform teams on duty to carry out up to three further arrest enquiries. All incidents are further risk assessed and risk managed using the ‘RARA’ model (remove/avoid/reduce/accept) by the CSU gatekeeper who then allocates outstanding matters to the Detective Sergeant responsible for the team dealing with crimes that day. The risk assessments are used at this point to ensure immediate referral of high risk cases to the Borough IDVA’s/ MARAC and that appropriate DV support service advice has been given in other cases. All crimes and outstanding suspects form the basis of another review at the Daily Management Meeting chaired by a member of the SMT.
2.4 The outcome of the risk assessments are also used when applying the MPS outstanding suspects policy aimed at arresting perpetrators in high risk cases within 24hours and others within 7 days. A Violent and Forensic Offender Management meeting is held weekly, again chaired by an SMT member which reviews all cases involving outstanding suspects.
2.5 In any cases where there are significant changes and at the conclusion of all cases a further risk management is undertaken. This means that additional support and advice can be given to victims/survivors as necessary. Cases are tracked through the court system so that information about bail and any conditions that apply can be used to amend the risk assessments and to inform victims of the status. After sentencing the Prison Intelligence Notification System (PINS) is used to track the release date of the perpetrator and again update the risk assessment, this is used to inform the victim and any allocated support workers of release dates so that appropriate safety measures can again be considered.
2.6 Where there is a disclosure of rape or other serious sexual offence Barnet BOCU refers immediately to SCD2. A trained SOIT officer is then assigned to meet the victim within an hour, regardless of how much time has passed since the offence took place. If not already completed within a 124D, the SOIT will conduct an initial risk assessment using the SPECSS+ model outlined above. An aide memoir is provided within the SOIT log which is opened by the SOIT once they are deployed. Based on the SPECSS+ answers and any other risk factors particular to that situation, the risk will be assessed as standard, medium or high. In a DV case where the risk is medium or high, a Part 2 Risk assessment is completed, further exploring the history of the relationship and risk factors.
2.7 Similar to the BOCU procedures outlined above, supervision is vital in relation to risk management and all initial risk assessments and risk management plans are supervised by the on duty Detective Sergeant (DS) conducting the 10-18 hour review in relation to all SCD2 investigations. Risk assessments are subject to ongoing reviews by supervisors at regular intervals according to the standard operating procedure for the investigation of rape and serious assaults. On a high risk case this will be at 10-18 hours (DS), 7 day (DI), 28 days (DCI).
2.8 SCD2 liaises closely with the Borough IDVA to assist in risk management where appropriate. If the case fits the MARAC criteria, a referral is made via the BOCU CSU Detective Inspector.
2.9 The SCD2 intelligence unit conducts daily reviews of all sexual offences reported to police for the previous 24 hour period. Any cases identified as high risk are discussed at the SCD2 Daily Management Meeting (DMM), where actions are raised and closely monitored by the senior management team. This will include high risk domestic violence offences, offences classified as group or gang related, as well as ‘Stranger One’ (where there is no previous connection between victim and suspect) or ‘Stranger Two’ (where there has been a brief acquaintance or association).
2.10 A key aspect of any investigation into a serious sexual offence is the forensic strategy. This is particularly the case where the offender is unknown. In such stranger cases, where the offender is not yet identified and therefore still at large, the risk to the general public can only be considered as high. As a result there are procedures in place to ensure early forensic intervention and urgent submission of forensic samples. This early intervention is an example of how the risk of further offending is managed in stranger rape cases.
2.11 Where any suspect in custody is considered a bail risk, this is referred immediately to the London Rape Charging Centre (LRCC) or CPS Direct (CPSD) in order for a charging decision to be made on the threshold test, in order to remand the suspect in custody. This is a key tool in risk management. Where the threshold test is not met and bail is necessary, all investigating officers in consultation with the custody officer considers the imposing of pre charge (police) bail conditions. Any offences of breach of bail, or offences of witness intimidation for SCD2 cases are immediately brought to the attention of an SCD2 supervisor and positive action is taken.
2.12 For cases that fit their criteria, there is a documented process for submission of material by SCD2 to the Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS). This material is entered onto a national database and enables the SCAS team to identify possible linked series on a national level, or to provide details to investigators of ‘similar’ offences where a distinctive method is used. This process also assists in risk management by identifying possible emerging series at an early stage.
2.13 High risk or incidents of critical community concern will be discussed at the BOCU DMM and where appropriate the SCD DI will brief BOCU colleagues. Jointly both SCD2 and Barnet BOCU will ensure appropriate measures are in place to support and reassure the community.
What work is being done to ensure that the 124D (or DASH 2008) form is being 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 e.g. CRIS, MERLIN, and CRIMINT?
2.14 The CSU deliver training to the core response teams twice yearly. The benefit and necessity for use of the 124D and MERLIN is spoken about, the input is interactive so officers have the chance to discuss problems/issues and individual cases therefore making sure that all officers are aware of the reasons for its existence and the importance to the investigation of domestic violence of the collation of the information.
2.15 The existence and quality of the 124D and MERLIN is checked by the officer’s line manager, the crime desk personnel and the CSU and Public Protection Unit (PPU) gatekeeper. Any found missing or not providing adequate information are addressed directly with the officer. Attachments to the CSU for uniformed officers are encouraged as this shows officers how the 124D’s are used and emphasises their importance. The 124D’s are all collated and given a reference number which is put on the CRIS report by the borough administration unit.
2.16 Barnet has a high number of reports of domestic incidents in proportion to offences. This can be viewed as evidence to support that the completion of 124D’s and the transfer of the information onto CRIS is of a high standard. The details of many of the incidents recorded are of a minor nature, for example siblings arguing over a remote control and a high number of arguments about contact in relation to children. The advantage of this is that procedures to prevent escalation can be put in at a very early stage.
How does SCD2/ the (B)OCU respond to cases of sexual and/ or domestic violence in which there are police officers or staff involved, or counter-allegations, multiple victims or multiple perpetrators? How many of these are there?
2.17 During the relevant time period Barnet BOCU has had one police officer and one member of police staff identified as perpetrators of domestic violence. In all incidents involving MPS employees, the CSU supervisors ensure they comply with the SOP; which gives clear directions on how to manage both victims and perpetrators that are employed by the MPS. Officers under investigation are usually placed on restricted duties and are managed by the DPS (Directorate of Professional Standards) in accordance with MPS SOP ‘Managing Restricted and Suspended officers’. The BOCU has very good links with its’ local DPS who are co-located on the Borough. Early contact is made with the officers/staff members BOCU and a welfare officer and police federation/union representative arranged in consultation with them.
2.18 There were five Police Officers and one member of staff shown as victims of domestic crimes and three Police officers and 2 members of police staff further involved in domestic incidents. As victims they are again allocated welfare officers, use is made of OH referrals where necessary. Close liaison is maintained with any additional relevant Borough personnel for information or should any action be necessary by them and to support the officer/staff member through the court process.
2.19 One difference when dealing with cases involving police officers /staff as perpetrators is that CPS Direct do not make decisions (unless high risk cases) at the time but ask that all cases are referred to local CPS. In practise this means that a police officer/staff member may be on bail for a longer period of time to await this decision.
2.20 Counter allegations are frequently dealt with in DV cases. All officers are aware that it is important to try to establish who the primary aggressor is. This aspect of DV is included in all training including that given to response officers, in particular to avoid the situation where both parties are arrested. Account is taken of previous history, corroboration of the details given by examination of any injuries or damage alleged and enquiries with neighbours to get a sense of the actual domestic situation. When CSU officers are dealing after arrest or during reactive investigations assistance can be sought from the borough IDVA’s to try to clarify the situation. Counter allegations without any corroborating evidence can lead to the situation where there is insufficient evidence to charge an individual in these cases we make sure that the relevant DV support and advice is given using the domestic violence advisors.
2.21 Again frequently cases of DV involve multiple victims as many situations involve children, extended family members and siblings. The MERLIN system and training given to officers for Every Child Matters (ECM) are extremely useful when individuals under 18 are involved as social services are made aware of the situation and can assist with effective management. Becoming more common is the situation where one of the family members is elderly or mentally ill. At Barnet there is a reciprocal referral system under safeguarding adults using a dedicated mailbox so that information about these complex family situations are shared and appropriate services can be accessed at an early stage.
2.22 During the period in the 12 months to 30 November 2010 SCD2 has investigated one allegation of serious sexual assault within Barnet that has involved a Special Constable as a suspect. The victim in this case refused to engage with the investigation and would not make a statement. However positive action in the form of arrest was taken. This step was taken having consulted fully with the Directorate of Professional Standards and the Police Federation. The case did not pass the evidential threshold to submit to CPS and no further action was taken. Counter allegations in serious sexual assault are rare and there have been no such allegations investigated by SCD2 during this reporting period.
2.23 At the beginning of every SCD2 investigation, full research is carried out to identify whether the victim has previously reported similar offences. During the reporting period 2 repeat victims have been identified on Barnet’s Borough. One of these is a child. Social Services were fully engaged with the investigation and as part of the support plan for the victim she has been placed into foster care by Social Services. In respect of both cases relating to this victim, different suspects were identified and arrested and the matters were referred to CPS who decided there was insufficient evidence to charge. The other repeat victim is a domestic case where the victim initially reported the offence of rape but would not substantiate the allegation. Following a full risk assessment it was decided that a positive arrest would take place. The suspect was therefore circulated as wanted for the offence of rape. Shortly after this the victim reported a further offence of sexual assault against the same suspect. This prompted her to provide an account for this offence and also the earlier offence of rape. This matter was presented to the CPS who decided there was insufficient evidence to charge.
2.24 In the reporting period there have been 6 allegations of multiple offender sexual assaults on single victims. In three of these cases, all of the suspects have been identified and all have been charged. In the remaining 3 cases, all suspects were identified and arrested and the matters were presented to CPS who decided there was insufficient evidence to charge.
2.25 Multi perpetrator serious sexual offences are by definition considered as ‘high risk’ offences and as such obtain an enhanced level of resources and supervision within the SCD 2 investigation team.
B3: Partnership working and Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRP)
What is the proportion of funding dedicated to tackling domestic and sexual violence from within the overall CDRP budget
3.1 It is not possible to separate DV & sexual violence funding from within the overall CDRP envelope as many separate funding streams in the council are directed from the various different business groups into community safety (Adult Social Services Mental Health Grant/Supporting People Budget/Housing/Environment & Operations Area Based Grant). There is not a single pooled community safety budget for the CDRP but a series of top-sliced budgets and specific grants. Barnet is one of 16 local authorities in the country who are moving in 2011 to place based community budgets, but partners are in early discussion on how this may work in practice. The table below demonstrates that a considerable amount of resource - excluding the opportunity cost of staff is directed towards domestic violence and the partnership is also funding a new rape crisis centre. The draft service provisions for 2011/12 to support strategy are outlined in Appendix 2
3.2 The current funding total of 1,040,941 has been supplemented by charitable donations that support third sector providers. Including these contributions DV has been funded to the value of £1.2m in Barnet. LBB contribution was £854,841. The police contributed £64,000. Given the scale of cuts envisaged in the new financial year there is a significant funding gap between an aspirational draft services model of £1,120,997 and partners budgets. It is unlikely that the third sector will be able to fund the difference and there will be difficult decisions to be made by the board especially to meet it’s strategic priority of moving towards more preventative activity. The commissioning process is underway but the final budgets have not been set. Positively, discussions are currently taking place within LBB to stabilize 2011/2012 at the current level.
Are Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence considered as part of the annual Strategic Assessment? Has domestic and sexual violence been identified as a priority within the Partnership Plan? Are there any CDRP domestic and or sexual violence projects in progress?
3.3 Violence as a strategic theme is a key part of the strategic assessment 2008-2011 which has been annually refreshed. This incorporates Domestic Violence but the sexual violence element is not clearly outlined in the Barnet DV strategy or strategic assessment; however the Domestic Violence Strategy will be reviewed within the next six months in order to respond to the Home Office Strategy: “Together we will end violence against women and girls, and the GLA VAWG Strategy” – both identify sexual violence as a priority. A spike in sexual offences in Barnet during the 2009-2010 year meant this was scrutinized and reported through the Partnership board and the police had, until recently, a dedicated sexual offences analyst within the Borough Intelligence Unit. Cuts to personnel have made this dedicated role impossible to sustain.
3.4 Borough performance is monitored quarterly by the Safer Communities Partnership Board. (CDRP) which reports to the One Barnet Programme Board (formerly the LSP), chaired by the leader of the council and Chief Executive and includes Chief Executives from the NHS, Middlesex University, the private sector and the Borough Commander for Police. The current strategic assessment is being drafted but includes DV as a priority because of the Board’s concerns around under-reporting and the increased reporting of DV cases through children’s services.
Two key indicators are monitored through the board:
- Reducing the percentage of repeat DV incidents reported to the MARAC (NI 32)
- Increasing the number of DV reports
3.5 The DVSB has been successful in raising the profile of DV amongst partners most notably when in 2010 Barnet NHS also identified DV as a priority and produced a detailed action plan to raise awareness and referrals to specialist services from within the acute, primary and maternity care sectors.
3.6 SCD2 Barnet / Harrow are currently working on a project to fund the refurbishment of the victim comfort suite. This is located at Barnet Police Station and is the place where all victims are brought when first making an allegation of serious sexual assault, and where they attend for follow up visits as the investigation progresses. This is a joint project led by SCD2 also involving Harrow Borough and the Victim Support Scheme (VSS). Harrow has already committed £1000 from the Harrow CDRP towards this project, and the bid for funding from Barnet is in the process of being completed. The refurbishment will make a dramatic improvement to the environment that we are able to offer victims at a crisis point in their lives. The project also plans to involve local schools in designing the artwork for the room. This part of the project will also provide an opportunity for prevention work with young girls and will be used to ensure pupils understand appropriate sexual behaviour, as well as giving them the confidence to take a positive and proactive stance on sexual bullying.
How do the BOCU and SCD2 work in partnership with voluntary and statutory sector agencies locally? What training is delivered in partnership with the community?
3.7 Partnership working within Barnet is overseen by the Domestic Violence Strategy Board (DVSB). It is co-chaired by the Borough Commander for Police and the senior council officer for community safety (at Director level). Representation included the Local Authority through children and adult social services and housing, probation, health, and ‘Community Barnet’ and was enlarged to include the CPS and Her Majesty Courts Service. The DVSB has close links to the two Safeguarding Boards for Adults and Children and the independent chairs of both boards are invited to the CDRP.
3.8 Terms of reference have been agreed and a Domestic Violence Operational Group (DVOG) established, collapsing a series of task & finish groups to create a body to ensure the implementation of the new three year strategy. The DVOG drafted the first strategy and action plan. It also created a task & finish group to deal with the most pressing issue – that of commissioning DV support services under considerable budget pressure on all services. All existing DV providers have had their contracts extended to September 2011 and have recently attended a seminar to discuss future tenders. The DVOG includes the MARAC chairman (DCI Public Protection) and reports to the DVSB. The chairperson of the DVOG is the A/Director Children’s Services who also sits on the DVSB providing the senior link between the board and its operational arm.
3.9 Children Services are the lead business group in the council. This is in line with the pressure to restructure the council to deliver better services for less, along with the realisation that post Baby P, the number of Child Protection Plans and children in care were increasing and that 80-90% of cases involved disclosure of DV. The director of community safety and the director of adult social services are also represented.
3.10 Three further groups report into the DVOG:
- Specialist Domestic Violence Court Operational Group (SDVCOG) - who also report through the Barnet Criminal Justice Group
- Domestic Violence & Violence against Women & Girls Forum (DV & VAWG) - has also been re-established and provides the practitioners forum that provides consultation and advice and a two way dialogue for the DVOG - as well as spreading good practice. It also provides an educational forum to raise awareness of DV and coach providers and practitioners in local, regional and national policy. The DVOG & DV Forum are co-ordinated by the DV Co-ordinator, who is invited to attend the DVSB.
- The Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) - chaired by the Detective Chief Inspector Public Protection and meets monthly. There are clear processes in place with partners’ co-signatories to the information sharing protocol, but a lack of consistency in this post and attendance of key partners has created problems. The MARAC has had a low referral rate, principally due to a high threshold which has now been reduced to the CAADA recommended level and a lack of engagement from Health - both of which have been highlighted by the DVSB for improvement.
3.11 The Safer Communities Partnership Board (CDRP) oversees the DVSB and is also co-chaired by the Barnet Police Borough Commander with the lead member for Community Safety and Community Cohesion, and DV has been established as a standing agenda item and a key priority in the strategic assessment for 2011/12 (under review).
3.12 The partnership has been subject to two DV audits in 2010, a CAADA review of its MARAC and an internal scrutiny from councillors. Recommendations from both reviews have broadly been accepted by the DVSB, DVOG and MARAC.
3.13 The underlying priority for the DVSB was a move towards early intervention and prevention. It was accepted that this could not result in damaging protection and provision of on-going support to DV survivors, but a 20% cut in the budget supporting DV would make this a significant challenge. The priorities can be summarized as:
- Raising awareness across all agencies and the public to enable early intervention and prevent violence, reversing the declining trend in reporting particularly by engaging health & education sectors
- Ensuring safe and effective provision for DV survivors, vulnerable adults and children
- Identify and safeguard the needs of children and young persons affected by DV
- Deliver an effective criminal justice response that maximizes safety
- Ensuring a proactive response through co-ordination of partners through consistent, well-informed policy, systems, resource sharing and leadership
3.14 The partnership supports the following voluntary and private sector groups in Barnet either through direct funding or referral:
- Jewish Women’s Aid - providing an 8 bedroom refuge, resettlement service, confidential free phone service, outreach and education and awareness campaigns for Jewish women and children
- Domestic Violence Support Service - IDVA service based in Colindale police station supporting high to high risk DV cases through the criminal justice process. They have access to police systems and significantly enhance the risk assessment process benefiting from very close working relationship with CSU police officers and management.
- Refuge* - providing an Eastern European outreach service in Barnet, Brent, Hammersmith & Fulham created to deal with recent significant influx of Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian and Hungarians.
- Barnet Asian Women’s Association - BAWA established the Jagruti DV project in 2004 to provide culturally specific services to meet the needs of Asian women in Barnet. They also provide counselling and advice to young Asian women in forced marriage & crisis intervention workers reduce risks to and promote the safety of women subject to DV and Honour based Violence.
- Victim Support* - The CSU works closely with North West London team of VSS - who operate directly out of the court having had accommodation provided through the partnership. VSS also has volunteers supporting low risk cases and a Youth Engagement Officer undertaking preventative work in schools.
- Elevate (Christian Action Housing Association) - provides a floating support service to DV victims in Barnet, Brent and Haringey, including resettlement and a court service. They are currently constructing a 16 bed refuge centre.
- Sangam Association of Asian Women - a not for profit charity founded by Asian women providing information and support across London but based in Barnet. They offer culturally specific DV advice, support, group therapy and work shops.
- Solace Women’s Aid* - provide accommodation and support with temporary accommodation for 21 family units across 2 sites.
* no direct funding supplied through the partnership
3.15 The Borough Specialist Domestic Violence Court, accredited (Ministry Of Justice) was set up in April 2010. It is early, but signs are encouraging that this is providing a significantly improved service for DV survivors. All victims are now personally offered referral to Elevate by the Witness Care Unit and therefore are offered specific support, in addition to that provided through the Witness Service. They are also offered the opportunity to provide Victim Personal Statements. There has been the reduction in the number of ineffective trials, which historically DV cases negatively impacted on. Our current ineffective (adjourned on the day) rate is 16% (April 10 to November 10) compared to 19.5% the same time last year. This has enabled trials to be set within 6 weeks of a not guilty plea and contributed to the very healthy average from charge to completion at court for quarter one of this year of 38.5 days.
3.16 From September 09 to March 10 fourteen practitioners from Health, Victim Support, Refuge, Mental Health and DV agencies from the Voluntary and the Council were booked on the accredited CAADA course. Independent Domestic Violence Advocacies (IDVA) have all received the accredited CAADA training. There has also been joint Police/Council training delivered to third party reporting sites in response to the need to increase understanding and reporting of DV across cultural boundaries.
3.17 Training is a recognised gap from the needs assessment and gap analysis report delivered in February 2010 and has become more essential from the CAADA audit where the DVSB believes that a training programme for our MARAC partners is necessary. Police will participate in partnership with local agencies from the statutory and voluntary sectors, and are interested in the efficacy of the Lambeth programme.
3.18 Statutory Partner: Haven. As with all SCD2 teams there is a close working relationship with the Haven. The nominated Haven for Barnet and Harrow cases is Haven Paddington. The anonymous referrals system means that victims can refer anonymously at any clinic, where, according to the rota SCD2 officers from Harrow/Barnet will attend and meet with a victim to discuss their options and provide advice and support.
3.19 Statutory Partner: CPS. SCD2 also has a close relationship with CPS. This ensures the highest level of attention is given to the progression of cases of serious sexual assault. The vast majority of SCD2 cases are now referred to the LRCC. There has been a dramatic improvement in joint working since the start of LRCC, with the focus being very much on early joint case building. As with all SCD2 teams, the LRCC aims to conduct a telephone consultation with the officer in the case within 3 days of bail of a suspect. Following this a face to face consultation takes place with the officer in the case and the LRCC Lawyer. Once a charging decision has been reached all Barnet cases are transferred to Barnet CPS Branch and a new rape specialist is appointed. The SCD2 DI meets with the Barnet BCP on a monthly basis to ensure the continued progression of all SCD2 cases. This is a formal meeting in which minutes are taken. For the few SCD2 cases that fall outside the LRCC remit, Barnet CPS offer SCD2 a fortnightly ‘surgery’ where appointments can be made to discuss the case with a rape specialist. In more urgent cases the working relationship is such that advice appointments outside this time are accommodated. If the case is an in-custody (threshold test) case then this is referred directly to the LRCC for an immediate charging decision if in office hours. If outside of these hours, the case is referred to CPS Direct.
3.20 Statutory Partner: Social Services. In relation to SCD2’s engagement with Barnet Social Services as a statutory partner, there has been a recent review of joint working arrangements. Although these are generally good, it has been identified that there is no structure in place for a monthly managers meeting, where managers from Barnet Social Care, SCD5, SCD2 and the Barnet Public Protection Unit (PPU) and Community Safety Unit (CSU) are present. However this has been addressed and the first meeting will take place on 14th February 2011. This meeting will discuss working practices in general, and specific cases in particular, if necessary. It is recognised by SCD2 that SCD5 have longstanding and excellent working arrangements with the local authority and SCD2 aims to emulate this using the same practices in relation to joint investigations. They are always consulted where specialist advice is required around safeguarding.
3.21 SCD2 has also forged close links with VSS and Barnet IDVA’s. SOIT officers also have a good knowledge of local agencies and projects and will provide referrals to or contact details of support services most appropriate to the victims needs. We also have a notice board visible to victims, displaying various local support services, with leaflets available for victims to take. There is also a central point of contact within the SCD2 intranet site where SOIT officers can establish what is available for victims with particular circumstances, for example if they live outside of the Borough or they are in need of specialist support that for whatever reason may not be available locally. Barnet is involved in the development of the Rape Crisis Counselling Centre, and will offer rape/sexual assault counselling in 3 locations across Barnet. We have also gained access to the services of West London Rape Crisis Service, as referred to in paragraph 4.12.
3.22 Partners from both the Voluntary and Statutory sector attend as guest speakers for the week long mandatory SCD2 course, and also for the SOIT course. The SOIT training course also includes input from a survivor.
Are there any police or partnership initiatives to tackle Violence against Women? E.g. looking at trafficking and or prostitution, sexual exploitation of girls in gangs, forced marriage etc
3.23 All of the local initiatives that we work with e.g. Elevate, DVSS, Jewish Women’s Aid work under the umbrella of the Violence Against Women and Girls agenda (VAWG). VAWG has replaced the overall title domestic violence across London and as outlined in the Home Office Strategy – Together we will end Violence Against Women and Girls and The GLA Strategy: The Way Forward – Taking Action to end Violence Against Women and Girls Final Strategy 2010-2013. There is now a greater focus on tackling sexual violence and trafficking. Our projects focus on the SDVC, MARAC, Rape Centre development, local community projects that offer IDVA / advocacy services, Safer Families Project, Specialist support e.g. DV Workers in Childrens.
B4: Work with victims and communities
How does the BOCU and SCD2 monitor service user satisfaction and or seek feedback from victims / survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and then integrate any improvements into policy and practice?
4.1 In line with MPS policy, the User Satisfaction Survey (USS) and the Public Attitude Survey are not used to obtain feedback from victims of domestic violence or sexual violence. However, feedback, either positive or negative is provided by IDVA’s and Outreach Workers to the CSU DI and highlighted as good practice or areas for improvement where necessary. Issues raised by victims and practitioners can be addressed during any of the multi agency meetings. Any complaints about how cases have been handled are dealt with by the CSI DI. In the period relating to this report there have been two recorded complaints one being that the positive action taken in compliance with the DV SOP had been to arrest the perpetrator which the victim/complainant did not want to happen. The second concerned the treatment of an individual when arrested. On the positive side letters of appreciation are also passed through the CSU DI. Monthly CSU meetings are held where these issues are discussed and any adjustments or improvements are implemented.
4.2 SCD2 has a system of victim feedback that is addressed at the end of each investigation. It is the responsibility of the victim’s SOIT officer to discuss the user feedback form (UFF) with the victim once the investigation is completed. If the victim is willing to accept the feedback form this is normally given to them personally, however if preferred it can be sent by e-mail. The feedback is anonymous and the results are collected centrally. This is still a relatively new process and the command is looking at other ways to invite victim feedback, including involving the VSS in providing questionnaires. All UFF’s are returned anonymously in a pre paid envelope to a central MPS unit independent of SCD2, and the information contained within is evaluated. Any feedback (positive or negative) is forwarded to the SCD2 Senior Management Team, and where there is a need identified that relates to policy and procedure this is fed into the Continuous Improvement Team (SCD2) for action.
4.3 There is a CRIS flag to enable compliance in relation to UFF to be monitored. The issuing of UFF is a specific performance target for SOIT officers.
4.4 As a result of comparatively low numbers of feedback forms being issued, the local SCD2 DI has a policy that she will not close a case until the UFF has been specifically addressed by the appointed SOIT.
4.5 A quality of service report (QSR) process exists between the Havens and MPS and is used to pass on comments on any quality of service issues (both good and bad) between the organisations. All such issues are fed into the SCD2 Continuous Improvement Team to ensure shared learning where appropriate.
How does the (B)OCU and SCD2 ensure compliance with the Victims Code of Practice and 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 e.g. release on bail)?
4.6 The BOCU is fully compliant with Victims Code of Practice (VCOP), and our commitment to this is illustrated in our performance which is measured in six main areas. For example in respect of 28day updates for example the borough achieves on average 90% compliance. It must be born in mind however that this is a figure is about code compliance and sometimes does not reflect actual contact which in DV cases is high and also includes in the majority of cases contact by a DV support service. Compliance with VCOP forms part of each CSU officer’s personal objectives.
4.7 In SCD2 cases a SOIT is always deployed to the victim who is responsible for providing the victim with updates in line with VCOP. SCD2 monitors VCOP compliance. The majority of VCOP entries on the Crime Reporting Information System (CRIS) will therefore be completed by the SOIT officers. Where the appointed SOIT is not available and an important update is required, such as a suspect being released on bail, the update will be given by the deputy SOIT (if appointed), the officer in the case, or a supervisor.
4.8 VCOP compliance is monitored by SCD2 DS conducting the seven day ongoing supervision and by the DI conducting 28 day reviews. Centrally the SCD Crime Management Unit publishes weekly VCOP ‘failure’ data which is forwarded to line managers for review. In the vast majority of cases the ‘failure’ is found to be an administrative error; that is to say that there has been documented victim contact, but the victim charter page has not been updated on the CRIS. This issue is addressed by line managers with the officers involved.
How do the BOCU and SCD2 build trust and confidence with hard to reach communities, particularly around sensitive cultural issues such as forced marriage and honour-based violence?
4.9 The multi-agency initiatives listed under partnership which provide contact within hard to reach communities. This is enhanced by for example a talk given to the Jewish Womens Association by the CSU DI to give practical advice and provide face to face contact to increase public confidence.
4.10 Within Barnet CSU there are designated roles for Detective Sergeants, providing liaison roles for MARAC, LGBT, HBV and Hate crime issues. All DV same sex incidents are brought to the attention of the LGBT liaison officer, which allowed appropriate referrals to supporting agencies to be offered. The officer also attended LGBT forums, and partnership meetings, to encourage reporting and awareness of the services offered by the CSU. The officer with responsibility for HBV is familiar with the SOP’s and has made contact with police solicitors about applying for and serving orders so that the service given in these types of cases is quick, appropriate and accurate.
4.11 Barnet schools officers and safer neighbourhood teams (SNT) provide information and training about DV, safety and other issues to both local primary and secondary schools. The SNT officers also sensitively police the public sex environment (PSE) Scratchwood, providing opportunities for incident reporting.
4.12 In addition to the Haven services, SCD2 have links with various London based services that support victims within otherwise hard to reach communities. The West London Rape Crisis Service has recently opened and now has a local outreach service for women from West London Boroughs including Harrow. This unit is one of the specialist services of Women and Girls Network (WGN), which provides holistic therapeutic services to women who have experienced various forms of sexual assault and violence including trafficking, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, and forced marriage. Katie Holmes the centre manager has recently been to visit the local SCD2 office and met some members of the team. It was discussed that Barnet residents are not within the geographical area of the West London Service, however as the North London service has yet to open and their team have agreed in the interim and in the interests of victim care that we are able to make referrals to them for Barnet cases. The SCD2 team take a proactive approach in referring victims to this and other such services, discussing with them the options available and assisting with the referrals process. Where the victim has been introduced to an IDVA they also facilitate referrals in a similar way. The SCD2 team maintain a stock of leaflets and flyers (where they are available) for all services, and display posters to raise the profile of these services. SCD2 also refer to a number of other organisations that specialise in engaging with hard to reach communities, such as the Refuge community outreach service for Eastern European Women, Southall Black Sisters, Poppy Project, IKWRO, Galop and Respect.
4.13 From a strategic perspective the SCD2 DI has engaged with numerous partners locally, for example by engaging with VSS managers, meeting local IDVAs and managers of services such as the WGN referred to above, in order to raise the profile of SCD2 particularly in the light of fairly recent organisational change. The team has on occasion received referrals direct from such third parties, whereby a victim has come to a decision to report to police after being given the necessary support. This is seen as a positive step towards building trust and confidence within the most hard to reach communities and the organisations supporting them.
B5: Organisational improvement
Where there have been recommendations from homicide reviews or serious case reviews, what are they and how have they been implemented?
5.1 There have been two DV murders during this reporting period each have been reviewed and lessons learned disseminated.
5.2 On 1st January 2010 a woman was murdered by her partner, they had only been together for a short time, 5 weeks prior to the murder. There were no reports to any agencies. The suspect was convicted of murder. This matter was reviewed resulting in the following recommendations
- The BOCU should be mindful of the possible level/s of unreported Domestic Violence within its boundaries and actively seek to engage with those victims, who may not currently have the confidence to come forward to the police and/or associated agencies. Methods should be identified to actively establish whether there are particular communities or minority ethnic groups within its BOCU, which are more reticent to engage with the police with regard to Domestic Violence due to pressure or beliefs within their community or environment.
- Where potential is identified, an appropriate approach should be formulated and focused by the BOCU on that section of its community, to engage, promote and encourage its communication with the police in an effort to break problematic patterns of behaviour which if left may lead to an escalation in violence or other criminal behaviour. Any programme/s should be formulated by the BOCU in conjunction with the appropriate multi agency partnerships in order to promote a coordinated response to its Community Safety and domestic Violence issues.
- Engagement of the relevant Safer Neighbourhood Team should be considered
All the recommendations reinforced actions already being undertaken on the Borough
5.3 On 29th August 2010 a woman was murdered by her long time partner. The perpetrator has severe mental health issues but co operation between the Police and Mental Health professionals ensured an arrest and charge. The review raised the issues that the Court Service had not forwarding a warrant for the suspect from the court to the police. HM Court Service conducted a review into how warrants were issued and a new system is in place The (Court presentation Officers) CPOs now E mail bail conditions to reduce possibility of gaps
5.4 Of note there have been two further murders to date but outside this reporting period. The first on 11th December the victim was known but had only been in a relationship with the perpetrator for about 8 weeks. The second was on 1st January 2011 the victim had only been in the country for 2 weeks neither party was previously known to police. The perpetrator committed suicide. Both matters are the subject of ongoing reviews
5.5 There have been no SCD2 serious case reviews in the reporting period for the Borough of Barnet.
How have close working practices been maintained between SCD2 and the BOCU?
5.6 SCD2 Harrow/Barnet is based at High Barnet Police Station in the Borough of Barnet. They are co-located with Barnets’ Community safety unit and public protection team. As such there is a close working relationship between operational staff at all levels.
5.7 Mutual assistance is freely provided. A typical example is where specialist advice and support is required by Barnet BOCU in the case of a report of a sexual assault, where the exact detail is not clear. It is common for an SCD2 SOIT to be deployed, in order to obtain a first account and provide an assessment of the allegation. This support is freely provided even though it may later be established that no serious sexual offence is being alleged. Alternatively it is common for the BOCU to support SCD2 by providing resources in high profile cases, for example assistance in conducting witness appeals, or anniversary appeals, and also to provide reassurance patrols where the community impact assessment dictates them to be necessary.
Where there have been cases of honour-based violence has the HBV Action Plan proved fit for purpose? If not, how could it be improved?
5.8 There have been 5 cases flagged as HBV/Forced Marriage during the reporting period. Two of these cases have involved working with the foreign office and solicitors to obtain and serve protection orders.
5.9 In all cases the action plan has formed the basis for the investigations. The plan itself is all encompassing and as a reference document is useful and effective.
What have been the successes and areas for improvement of Public Protection Desks?
5.10 Barnet BOCU Public Protection Desk (PPD) is also co-located at Barnet Police Station. A daily meeting is held prior to the BOCU DMM with staff from the PPD and CSU this ensures that all information is shared and any problems highlighted.
5.11 Barnet has seen a recent improvement in the consistency of intelligence checks being completed by Police and being sent to Social care, making referrals more meaningful and appropriate actions easier to identify.
5.12 There have also been improved relations with social care and better links put in place between managers. This will further improve as later this month the council will have their staff located within the PPD office.
5.13 A review has taken place in respect of missing persons, relations with care home managers and recording of relevant information have been greatly enhanced by the production of a standard form giving the details required by the care home which can then be transferred quickly and efficiently to the MERLIN system.
5.14 An information sharing agreement with health has been formulated and is awaiting the relevant signatures. This should much improve this relationship and enhance the flow of information.
What single improvement do the BOCU think the Metropolitan Police Service could make which would greatly improve the response to a) domestic and b) sexual violence locally?
5.15 The CSU has seen recent changes in domestic violence trends with a move towards reports of DV between older sibling still remaining at home exacerbated by drugs, alcohol and mental health. At times elderly relatives are included within the abusive situation. The link with safeguarding adults is becoming more significant and putting greater strain on CSU units as the workload increases without additional staffing. Consideration may have to be made about the remit of CSU’s and appropriate staffing levels.
5.16 SCD2 are not currently represented on partnership boards but have a voice through the Barnet SMT who at various levels sit on every relevant board, and they maintain a close working relationship with the Barnet Detective Inspector Main Office CID and DCI Public Protection who are responsible for investigating serious sexual crimes not within SCD2’s remit. A mutual aid agreement is in place authorised by the Barnet Borough Commander between SX and SCD2
5.17 The key to effective investigation of serious sexual offences is to have sufficient appropriately skilled and experienced staff to deliver the highest possible standard of investigation. Staff increases to match the current workloads are not yet in place and this is the single improvement that would greatly improve the overall response to sexual violence. Support for SCD2 teams is currently being provided in appropriate cases by SCD1 (Murder and Homicide Command). Work continues to recruit permanent staff in order to support the operational teams in the face of extremely heavy workloads, with the creation of the Complex Case Team which is due to be partially operational from 14th February 2011. The SCD2 team at Barnet and Harrow has been particularly badly affected by a lack of SOIT officers and since implementation in September 2009 has been a priority team within the command for the posting of newly trained officers. During the reporting period the team has had only 5 SOIT officers, however the number of SOIT posts has since increased to 8. At the time of submitting this report the SOIT strength has increased to 6 with 2 vacancies, to be filled by the end of March 2011.
What do you think the MPA Domestic and Sexual Violence Board and its Members could do to help or support SCD2 / the (B) OCU in dealing with domestic and/or sexual violence?
5.18 To assist with consideration of whether assessment of number of cases at MARAC is an appropriate measure of response to DV. The requirement to reach level set by CAADA can be argued to give inaccurate risk assessments thereby detracting from actual high risk cases.
5.19 To support the setting up of additional mental health support and charity services to respond to the changes within DV crime.
5.20 Rape remains one of the most under-reported crimes. Public endorsement from the MPA in relation to SCD2’s commitment to victim focus will help improve community confidence and positively influence victim’s willingness to report incidents, substantiate their allegations with statements and give evidence at trials.
Equality and Diversity Statement
Barnet BOCU is committed to providing a fair and accessible service that responds to the needs of Barnet’s communities and is reflective of the people we serve. We will strive to build an ethos within our BOCU where MPS Values and Behaviours are a part of everything we do and where our staff knows they will be listened to and treated with respect. This is in line with the MPS Diversity and Equality Strategy 2009-2013. As such; we will do our best to treat everyone with politeness, dignity and respect, regardless of race, age, faith, disability, sexual orientation or gender. Where circumstances permit and the law allows, we will always treat people according to their individual needs. This does not mean that certain groups will receive ‘special treatment’ or one group will be looked upon more or less favourably than another.
Barnet BOCU recognises that domestic and sexual violence exists within all social and economic groups and across every aspect of the community. We ensure that all victims of DV or SV are dealt
with according to their individual needs and this is put in practice by working closely in partnership with all of our statutory and voluntary partners whilst ensuring that carefully drafted
practices and policies are adhered to.
Barnet CSU work with Adult and Children Safeguarding and Hate Crime personnel within the council to ensure that all diverse groups within Barnet are represented and given a voice.
SCD2 are similarly committed to equality in all aspects of service delivery. All victims, irrespective of their personal circumstances, age, disability, gender, race, religious belief, faith or sexual orientation are be presumed to be credible and able to sustain proceedings with adequate/appropriate support where necessary (for which all avenues must be explored sensitively and appropriately) if this is the wish of the victim. All have access to our service irrespective of their personal circumstances. In line with the SCD2 Standard Operating procedure, care is taken not to communicate moral judgments to the victim and there is avoidance of questions that might imply criticism of the victim's lifestyle or behaviour.
The premise of any investigation into serious sexual assault is that SCD2 accept reports made by any victim in the first instance as being truthful. An offence will only be considered as unsubstantiated after a full and thorough investigation, and only if additional verifiable evidence comes to light.
Internally, SCD2 wholly support the MPS Equality and Diversity strategy and are also committed to the MPS flexible working policy. The Barnet/Harrow team currently have 2 staff (both Detective Constables) on flexible working patterns. All SCD2 staff has appropriate support from line management and occupational health, in order to safeguard their welfare in such a particularly stressful and often emotionally demanding area of work.
SCD2 have a Diversity Forum, which consists of a variety of sub-groups, and is actively involved in developing innovative approaches to ensure the command meet the needs of its staff within the necessary legislative framework, as well as enhancing the policing response towards victims and partner agencies. The forum conducts periodic staff surveys, to ensure the working environment continues to reflect the needs of SCD2 staff. The Diversity Forum is determined to understand the needs of everyone and to positively influence the working environment both internally and externally.
Details of Barnet Borough population profile
At the 2001 census Barnet’s population was 314,564. The Office of National Statistics projected the rise to 331,500 by 2008 and 371,150 by 2018. At this time Barnet is believed to be the most populous borough in London with over 350,000 residents, and this population is the 16th most ethnically diverse in the UK. 68% of the population are white and 32% from ethnic minorities. The next most populous ethnicity is Indian at 9%, but Barnet also has the largest Chinese, Greek and Iranian populations in London. It is also the 2nd most religiously diverse borough in the UK and 15% of the population is Jewish, the largest in Europe. The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in Eastern European residents, especially Polish and Romanian who do not have well established leaders or groups for community engagement.
Key Domestic Violence Projects including Draft service provisions for 2011/12 to support strategy
Early intervention & prevention provided by DV service in children’s centers Children aged to 11. To include lead professionals, parenting programmes, surgeries, 1:1 support & family intervention, CAHMS (Mental Health) support, outreach - fathers workers and health visitors, awareness in schools. The funding is for staff of 3 DV workers, a team manager, CAHMS support. Current cost £0, projected cost £199,420.
Specialist Support (statutory provision) provided by Children’s support, DV workers to provide risk assessments, case management, family support, MARAC attendance, referrals, supervised child contact support, for staff of 3 DV workers costing of £107,100 to remain the same. For the Sanctuary scheme, to provide risk assessment, case management, referrals, support plans, surgeries, staffed by 1 sanctuary options officer costing to remain at £48,477. For protection in the home, the fitting, maintaining and removal of sanctuaries, costing to remain at £80,000. Safer Families Project – working with families at the earliest stage includes work with fathers DV social workers attached to referral and assessment teams – Children’s Service
Floating Support and MARAC Co-ordinator provides risk assessments, safety 7 crisis planning, support plans, advice to survivors, advocacy & support to CJS, Referrals to specialist services, running of MARAC, IDVAs, staffing is 8 floating support workers (% IDVA trained to CAADA standard), manager and MARAC Co-ordinator. Current budget of £363,807 to be increased to £370,000.
Refuges providing housing & support (e.g. Survivor groups and floating support advice) 20 places, 4 support workers for refuges’ and manager current budget £330,557 to be set at £210,000.
Hard to reach communities support providing awareness raising, risk assessment, advice & counselling, safety planning, signposting/referral to specialists, advocacy, group work to Jewish, Asian, Eastern European vulnerable groups provided for by external grant funding (£156,000) £24,000 (AdSS grant for BAWA) projected at £24,000.
Perpetrator Work including cases that do not reach probation was a £15,000 (pilot) and will not be funded.
DV co-ordinator post current cost is £54,000, projected cost £49,000.
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