Victims of domestic violence live in fear, and that doesn’t always disappear once they’ve managed to seek support; there’s always the concern that their abuser may return.
At Capita, we’re working in partnership with the police and criminal justice agencies to develop and utilise innovative technology that can support victims of domestic violence better. We want to reduce reoffending, break this culture of fear, and provide evidence-grade data to support convictions, by using digital technology to better-connect justice agencies and provide real-time information to victims.
Earlier this year a person was convicted and jailed for domestic abuse after being sprayed with SmartWater - a forensic liquid which shows up under ultraviolet light. This is the first conviction using SmartWater in the UK and highlights how new approaches can lead to better outcomes for victims and give them greater confidence in the criminal justice system. We want to use our experience of tagging and monitoring offenders utilising different technologies to ensure victims feel safer.
Evolving how we monitor offenders to give victims greater peace of mind
We’ve been delivering the electronic digital monitoring service (EMS) for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for eight years. We electronically tag and monitor offenders, who may be under curfew or prohibited from entering certain locations, while on probation, community orders or on court bail. Our partnership with the MoJ in England and Wales helps victims feel safer and gives low-risk offenders the opportunity to participate in society.
In the US, electronic tagging and monitoring is being used in conjunction with victim notification through a mobile app. By using data from the offender’s GPS tag, a proximity alert can be sent discreetly to the victim’s phone if the offender is in the vicinity, supervising authorities are also alerted in real time. If we can trial such ‘ally’ technologies in the UK, it could give domestic abuse victims greater confidence to move forward with their life, knowing that they would be alerted if their abuser was in the area. This kind of solution goes one step further than the monitoring and tagging service we provide today (which assists criminal justice agencies and enables evidence collection), by also supporting victims and reducing their fear of crime.
With the government focused on the ‘Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls strategy’ we believe the time is right to look ahead and ensure we are using the latest technology to better support victims. It will be important to involve charities and victim support groups in this to ensure that the voice of domestic violence victims is always front and centre.
Our purpose is to now enable this change through our solutions and partnerships with justice agencies. We’re talking to police forces and police and crime commissioners to explore how victim support technologies could support the domestic abuse agenda.
Using automation to help police officers support victims
Automation also offers immense opportunities to free up police time and better support victims of domestic violence. Together with Greater Manchester Police, we’ve developed a proof of concept app that gives officers vital information at the scene of a domestic violence incident. It enhances the 27-question Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour based violence form (DASH) that police officers must complete after a domestic violence incident. Instead, the app uses automation to present a dynamic form that the officer can access on a mobile device at the scene. It uses case history to help them understand the wider situation, so they can ask the right questions and provide the right level of safeguarding, whilst minimising the need to repeat information they’ve previously given. The app can also automate further checks and provide risk flags to the officer so they can provide the right level of support to the victim on an individual level, taking into account their full history and situation.
We now plan to run a live pilot with up to 30 police officers in Manchester and compare the performance of the app against the existing process. This will help us to refine and develop the solution and ensure that it continues to help police officers to better support victims.
By working in partnership with criminal justice agencies and using our vast experience of digital transformation, we can use technology to better-connect the justice system and improve support for victims.
This article was first published with techUK