Response 562466903

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Risks

1. Does the Policing 2026 strategy identify and acknowledge the main risks, challenges, opportunities and demands likely to impact on policing over the next 10 years?

We would welcome any view you have.
The Strategy goes some way to acknowledge the resource intensive nature of domestic abuse, and the proportion of violent crime it currently makes up (26%). However, as stated above, we would expect that already high number to increase if reporting levels met realistic prevalence levels of DA. Moreover, a key challenge for Police Scotland in the next 10 years will be to achieve consistency in response across the country. One of the key messages from our research was that there is wide variation between local areas in the response to domestic abuse, creating a ‘post code lottery’ for victims seeking support. Practitioners surveyed in Whole Lives expressed concerns about the lack of a consistent response across Scotland, in particular use of the DASH risk assessment checklist, perceptions of risk, referrals to Marac and referrals to domestic abuse services were all identified as variable between areas, services and individual professionals. At least 39 Maracs are neded to support victims at high risk of harm or murder, but the current number is 28, for example. We believe that Police Scotland has a role to play in addressing these inconsistencies in a variety of ways, including: 1. Consistent engagement (both strategically and operationally) with Maracs (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences ) nationally and a commitment to full coverage of Maracs across Scotland. This is set out in the Marac Practice Guidance document for Police Scotland. 2. Improved communication between Marac and MATAC. 3. Improved application of the Domestic Abuse Questionnaire (DAQ) and associated safety planning through a practical training programme that improves officer confidence in this area. 4. Greater links between the DAQ and SafeLives Dash , to improve the coordinated response to domestic abuse nationally.

Focus

2. Do you agree the main areas of focus proposed within the Policing 2026 strategy are the right ones to deliver an enhanced policing service?

Please tell us why you think these are the right or wrong areas of focus?
We would like to see greater emphasis on the risk-led response to domestic abuse within the Strategy. This speaks directly to the first priority of improving protection based on threat, risk and harm. There are a variety tools and resources that can support Police Scotland to identify domestic abuse earlier and make the right referrals sooner (for example, SafeLives’ Dash), address these risks in a collaborative way (Marac) and, through SafeLives’ DA Matters Police Change Programme (see section 5) support officers to recognise coercive control and investigate DA more effectively. Both at an organisational and multi-agency level, the risk-led model can support Police Scotland to direct resources effectively to support people experiencing domestic abuse to get help sooner by reporting earlier, improving victim engagement and increasing the opportunity to bring perpetrators to justice. This should dovetail with the work that is going on with partner agencies, including other specialist domestic abuse services and key organisations, such as our training programmes with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Health Visiting Pathway project for NHS Health Scotland.

Methods

3. Do you agree the methods proposed within this strategy are the right ones to deliver an improved policing service?

Please tell us why you think this is the right or wrong approach?
As discussed above we would like to see more risk-led methods of responding to DA. Another key improvement may derive from technology. We agree with the emphasis on investing in this area as a way of improving reporting levels and response times as we know these are key priorities for responding to domestic abuse. Likewise, we agree wholeheartedly with the need to improve data analysis to support decision-making, i.e. using risk outcomes to direct resources, whilst acknowledging recent developments such as the secure portal for agencies to submit intelligence safely (EPPIC). We also suggest that Police Scotland consider other ways in which technology might improve investigation of DA. In our Tech vs Abuse research we found that almost 1 in 5 women surveyed had used technology to capture evidence about their abuse, and when asked “How do you think technology can be improved to help survivors?” the second most popular answer (13.3%) was to be able to safely record abuse. We believe Police Scotland have a role to play in building victim’s confidence in using technology to help build evidence as well as to contact the police and other support services. As well as using technology to improve victim engagement, research shows police body worn cameras enhance evidence gathering in DA cases. Despite a successful pilot in Scotland and take-up in other parts of the UK there has been no national roll-out and we feel this should be re-considered. This may improve the discrepancy between the number of DA incidents, those which are recorded as a crime (51% ) and the number which eventually end in conviction.

Performance

4. The Policing 2026 Strategy states that public confidence will be a key measure of success and the effectiveness of Police performance. Do you agree with this approach?

We would welcome any views you have
We feel that the Strategy could go further to include unmediated victim voice in both structuring the priorities and measuring effectiveness. The voice of those with lived experience of domestic abuse should be embedded at the heart of the approach. For example, when we asked survivors of DA what worked for them, we were told; “being discussed at Marac was helpful, I felt I am not alone.” This is a powerful way of drawing on victim’s experiences to inform our own strategy at SafeLives, and we encourage Police Scotland to develop this further, for example by consulting on what victims who report and don’t report their DA feel about the police role, what would support them to engage better with police, and how can the police protect them from harm and direct them to the right levels of support.

Workforce

5. The Policing 2026 strategy highlights that we will need to re-shape our organisation with a workforce focussed on having the right skills and capacity to meet future challenges. Do you agree with this approach?

We would welcome any views you have.
We encourage Police Scotland to invest in ensuring officers have the right skills and knowledge to respond to domestic abuse in a consistently effective way across the country. This requires offiers to have an understanding of: coercive and controlling behaviours, how to identify risks, creative evidence gathering and investigation techniques and local/national referral pathways. SafeLives’ Domestic Abuse Matters change programme , developed with the College of Policing, specifically for the Police, focuses on the issue of domestic abuse and coercive controlling behaviour and is structured with a view to implementing long-term attitudinal and behavioural change for a critical mass of first responders. One Inspector who recently went through the programme commented:“if we had had this training a few years earlier we undoubtedly would have saved lives and prevented DA homicides.” Our Tech vs Abuse research also identified a skills gap among practitioners (including the Police) in the use of and application of technology. For example, nearly all practitioners (95.4%) agreed that technology increases the risk to victims from perpetrators and feel unable to provide options other than simply going offline. One third of the victims we interviewed for the research mentioned the positive role of technology in helping them connect with friends and family at a very vulnerable time. In addition, a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Violence for the UK Parliament (Tackling domestic abuse in a digital age, February 2017) recognised the ‘imperative need’ for ‘additional [specialist] training to the police, prosecutors and support services.’ Good tech training would allow police officers to advise victims on how to control their personal information better, remove online traces, protect themselves and their children and stay in touch with family and friends who can help them to recover from the abuse suffered.

About you

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Organisation Name
Safe Lives