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Force continues to enhance understanding and its response to domestic abuse

19 August 2021

Dorset Police officers and staff have enhanced their understanding of some of the tactics used by domestic abuse perpetrators as part of the Force’s continued efforts to strengthen the service they provide to victims.

SafeLives, a UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, has worked closely with Dorset Police to help it understand its strengths and areas for continued improvement. As a result, the Force introduced the Domestic Abuse Matters training programme in April 2021.

The training is being delivered to over 750 officers and frontline staff.

It covers a range of topics, including coercive control, victim blaming and manipulation techniques used by domestic abuse offenders, and equips first responders with the tools they need to better support victims. 

Pete Williams, Head of Domestic Abuse Matters at SafeLives, said: “We are really pleased to be working with Dorset Police to deliver DA Matters, a cultural change programme created with survivors and designed to create long term, sustainable change.

"Dorset Police becoming a DA Matters adopter Force will be welcome news for victims and survivors of domestic abuse. The programme is designed to increase awareness and understanding of coercive and controlling behaviour and create attitudinal change throughout the entire Force.

"The training will help to reassure victims that if they call for help, they will receive an empathetic response from Dorset Police, who will understand why it's important that all their issues including those around housing, mental health and support for children should be addressed, alongside referral to specialist domestic abuse services. The correct police response for victims of domestic abuse is vital, and DA Matters equips officers to get it right the first time, every time."

The training has so far seen 96 per cent of officers and staff state that their understanding of the tactics perpetrators of domestic abuse demonstrate when they are coercively controlling their victim has improved.  

They have also said that they have a better understanding of the various stages of coercive control and the abuse experienced and why victims might not always support police action.

Following the course, 93 per cent of attendees also stated that they had a greater understanding of the ways in which perpetrators can manipulate police responders and how this can often be a worry for victims when reporting domestic abuse, who fear they won’t be believed.

Chief Inspector Julie Howe, Force Vulnerability Programme Lead, said: “We are incredibly proud of our officers and staff for the way they have embraced and engaged with the training course. They are committed to providing an outstanding service to victims of domestic abuse and this training is supporting them in delivering just that.

“These are incredible results and it is clear that the training is having a positive influence on our response to domestic abuse and those it affects. We want to make sure we put the voice of the victim at the very heart of everything we do.

“The learning doesn’t stop when the course finishes and we’re in the process of setting up a domestic abuse champions network to make sure we continue to build on the foundations the training has put in place.”

David Sidwick, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I’ve pledged that victims will be at the heart of the new Police and Crime Plan for Dorset, which I am currently developing, and that includes victims of domestic abuse – a toxic and destructive crime that sadly all too often remains hidden.

“I’m glad to see training such as this delivering such positive impacts so early on and look forward to seeing how the lessons continue to develop the service provided to the people of Dorset.

“I will be working closely with the Force and other agencies over the coming months and years to make sure those who experience domestic abuse receive the best support possible.”

Chief Inspector Julie Howe continued: “We know that domestic abuse devastates lives and this is by no means the end of our journey. Dorset Police has a culture of continuous improvement and we are always striving to do better.

“We will continue to work to deliver the outstanding service that our communities expect and deserve.”

Anyone who is affected by domestic abuse can get support from Dorset Police by calling 101 or using our online reporting tools: www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online/

In an emergency, always call 999.

You can find information about other places to get support on the Dorset Police website: www.dorset.police.uk/da

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