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According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of police recorded domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales rose 6% in the year ending March 2021 to 845,734. However, referrals of domestic abuse cases to the Crown Prosecution Service decreased by 3% to 77,812.1
In 2021 the UK Government published its ‘Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls strategy’ to explain how it intends to:
- prevent crimes against women and girls
- improve the experiences of victims and survivors
- ensure perpetrators are brought to justice
- improve how different organisations work together.
For domestic abuse victims, the government wants to reduce the proportion who withdraw from criminal justice proceedings, to increase public confidence in the system and to provide more support:
“The Government recognises the importance of helping make sure that victims and survivors know how and where they can access support and are encouraged to take the often difficult step of doing so.”
At Capita, we understand that police officers can support victims better when they‘re able to access vital information, including historical case history, at the scene of an incident. That’s why we’ve worked in partnership with Greater Manchester Police to develop a dynamic, digital solution.
Connecting officers with vital information to support victims
When a police officer arrives at the scene of a domestic abuse incident, it’s crucial that they can ensure the victim is safe, take positive action at the scene and commence an investigation into what has happened, ensuring they are victim-focused.
The interviewing police officer must then complete a 27-question Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour-based violence risk checklist (DASH).This helps the officer to determine how vulnerable the victim is and what support they are likely to need.
However, this is a time-consuming process that is currently completed at varying times following an incident. Research by Manchester Met University found that of the 600,000 DASH forms completed each year in the Greater Manchester area, around 190 full-time equivalent policing hours were being lost. This is time that could be spent supporting vulnerable victims.
Together with Greater Manchester Police, we’ve developed a proof of concept app that aims to cut down administration time, and give officers vital information at the scene so they can support victims better.
By using automation, the app presents a dynamic form that the officer can access on a mobile device at the scene of the incident. It uses case history to help the officer understand the wider situation better, so they can ask the right questions at the scene and provide the right level of care.
Importantly, this can also prevent the victim from having to repeat information they have previously given, which helps them to feel that they’re being listened to and gives them greater confidence in the police. 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.
This simple but effective app could help to transform the level of care that domestic abuse victims receive. The next step in this important project is to run a live pilot with 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.
By working in partnership to understand the needs of police officers and victims of crime, we can develop technology solutions that create better outcomes for all.
This article was first published as part of techUK’s emerging Tech in Policing Week
Find out more about Capita’s solutions for policing:
Solutions Consultant, Capita
Nick Stevens is a Solutions Consultant working in Capita’s Transform & Consult business for the Public Service Division. Nick’s focus is leading data, AI and digital projects with UK law enforcement organisations. He’s passionate about user-centred design and proud of the work with Police Scotland and Greater Manchester Police looking at new ways to support officers dealing with domestic abuse incidents. With his policing experience he brings subject matter expertise to find ways for his clients to evolve and improve.