Perpetrators of domestic abuse are being targeted by the Metropolitan Police Service as part of a co-ordinated effort to proactively pursue and bring dangerous and prolific offenders to justice; whilst helping to end the suffering of victims.
A series of days of action have been taking place across the Capital and will continue over the coming weeks. Last week, as a result of proactive operations, 18 individuals were arrested for offences including assault and threats to kill.
The Met-wide operation is an addition to the similar activity carried out every year in November and December, under Operation Dauntless; and supports the organisation’s focus on and commitment to reducing violence against women and girls.
A range of domestic abuse awareness activities will also be taking place across all 32 boroughs, including visits to high-risk victims alongside Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs); dedicated domestic abuse cars to enforce bail conditions after arrest; and the use of ‘Achilles Heel’ tactics in a multi-agency, intelligence-led approach to persistently target offenders.
Licensing teams are supporting the campaign by raising awareness amongst door staff of the signs of domestic abuse.
It is known that 26 per cent of women and 13.6 per cent of men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Although the Crime Survey of England and Wales shows that London has the lowest prevalence of domestic abuse; it has the highest rate of recorded offences, with 78,634 crimes reported to the Met in the last financial year.
Our domestic abuse investigators work closely with IDVAs and specialist domestic abuse support agencies, which provide services that reflect the vast diversity of London’s population. Victims should feel confident that language, culture, disability or immigration status will not prevent them from obtaining the support they need.
In addition to seeking criminal sanctions, investigators use tools such as Domestic Violence Protection Orders, which can be used to prohibit the perpetrator from actions such as contacting the victim or going to their address for up to 28 days – even when there is insufficient evidence to proceed in a criminal case.
The Met is also keen to raise awareness of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, also known as Clare’s Law. If an individual has concerns about their partner, they have the ‘Right to Ask’ police if they have a history of domestic abuse. We will carefully consider the request and where appropriate, disclose information that allows the individual to make informed decisions to safeguard themselves. In cases where we recognise a significant risk posed by a violent offender, we will proactively disclose this information to their partner, under the ‘Right to Know’ provisions. For more information, search for Clare’s Law on our website.
The Met continuously works to improve the way it tackles domestic abuse and uses organisational learning to inform current policies, staff training and operating procedures. Within the last year the Met has:
– Moved towards full implementation of the Basic Command Units (BCU), merging between two and four boroughs. Each BCU will have a dedicated Safeguarding Unit, where co-located specialist officers investigate domestic abuse, sexual offences, child abuse and hate crime. Safeguarding partnerships will bring together missing persons investigations, child sexual exploitation and vulnerable adults teams, and the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.
– Worked in partnership with Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust, and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to establish the Stalking Threat Assessment Centre. STAC will be a centre of excellence, offering a range of services from different agencies, and piloting innovative responses to tackle stalking.
– Worked with local authorities and other partners to establish domestic abuse perpetrator programmes, to support those who wish to change their behaviour and engage in non-abusive relationships.
– Supported academic research by the Royal Holloway, University of London, into victim surveys, to improve our understanding of how best to support victims of domestic abuse.
As part of the Met’s commitment to safeguarding, in 2017, 12 senior leaders were appointed Lead Responsible Officers (LRO) for a range of key areas.
The LRO for domestic abuse, harassment and stalking is Chief Superintendent Sue Williams. She said: “On average, two women are murdered every week in the UK, with many more ending their own lives to escape the abuse. The impact of domestic abuse on families – particularly children – is devastating.
“It is a crime that cuts across all ages, cultures, classes, races and nationalities. It can be found in LGBT+ and heterosexual relationships, and is perpetrated within families, by mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.
“Domestic abuse used to be seen as a ‘private matter’. Often, family and friends will know about the abuse long before it comes to the notice of police or other professionals, but they may not know what to do. We are well aware offences remain significantly under-reported, for many complex reasons. But we hope that the growing number of allegations indicates growing confidence in victims of domestic abuse to come forward to seek help from the Met.
“I would like to ask everyone to call out those we suspect of domestic abuse, in our private lives and in the workplace, to take a stand and say that this behaviour is unacceptable. And where we suspect it may be happening to someone we know, to help and support them to feel safe and to escape further abuse.”
If you are worried that you are in an abusive relationship, or you have concerns about a friend or family member, the Met’s website is a source of information outlining what to expect when you report to police. It also provides links to support agencies, should you wish to seek help, but do not feel ready to speak to the police.