Essex police planning to share details of previous domestic violence


A radical new way of combating the rise in domestic violence is under consideration by Essex police, following pilot schemes by 4 other forces.

Domestic Abuse

According to the proposed 'dare-to-share' programme, women will be entitled to receive historical details of violent partners. The scheme is the result of the region experiencing 80 domestic violence calls a day, and 9 deaths in the last 4 years.

Domestic violence deaths

In the same week as an independent report criticising Essex police for its record of handling complaints, new chief constable Steven Kavanagh has pledged to take personal control of the way his region deals with domestic violence.

Essex has already been pinpointed by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and criticised over how it fails to protect women who, despite contacting police, died because of physical abuse.

For 3 years after 2008, 3 women and 1 child were murdered in Essex domestic violence incidents. The Independent Police Complaints Commission noted a series of failures, including a lack of linking incidents together, shortcomings in background checks and improper downgrading of calls for assistance.

Until September 2012, 5 more women also died in domestic violence murders in Essex, after which HMIC started its inquiry into how domestic violence is investigated in the region.

Tackling domestic violence in Essex

The HMIC report warns that women are still placed at unnecessary risk, even though Essex police have improved the way they deal with violent and threatening domestic incidents.

The commission has called on Essex police to ensure all staff recognise that, by properly dealing with domestic violence, murders can be prevented.

Emma Pearmaine, Partner, Simpson Millar is a Trustee for the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence, and says: "Domestic violence continues to be a hidden crime, with many victims afraid to speak out about their terrible experiences, thinking they will either be disbelieved or that help is just not there for them. Male and female survivors of domestic violence need to know that this is taken seriously by the police and family lawyers."

With help from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), repeat offenders should be targeted by following up on incidents where alleged victims are reluctant to cooperate but there is evidence of domestic violence. The force should work more closely with domestic violence agencies while improving how it focuses on and prioritises specific cases.

HMIC warned that if every case of domestic abuse was treated as a priority, more pressing cases could be overlooked, placing victims "at unnecessary risk".

Assessing the risks

Accepting the report, Mr Kavanagh said although there had been improvements in victim protection, work still needed to be done. He noted that because all domestic violence callouts were prioritised, there was a danger of "swamping the whole process" of determining who was at risk of immediate harm.

"We need to use the information we have in a more effective way," Mr Kavanagh said, adding that like 4 other forces piloting the scheme, he was keen to introduce dare-to-share.

"I am pushing very firmly to say we can do this more effectively if we share information with partners," Mr Kavanagh said. "I want to dare to share in Essex with other agencies and with women themselves."

News Archive

Get In Touch