POLICE have launched new tactics to control those responsible for domestic violence in Barnsley, with officers now making arrests at more than one in two incidents they are called to.
Officers are also making more use of legal notices to control the actions of those suspected of domestic abuse and to help safeguard children, who are often present when incidents unfold.
Barnsley’s police commander, acting Chief Supt Sarah Poolman, said: “We have really taken some steps in the right direction.
“We wanted to look at the longer journey for the domestic violence victim,” she told South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, at a meeting of his Public Accountability Board,
A ‘high risk domestic violence team’ has been created, responsible for ‘positive outcomes’ in more than 50 per cent of cases, in most cases meaning criminal charges, she said.
Domestic violence has been notoriously difficult for police to pursue effectively in the past because many victims are reluctant to make complaints against a partner, restricting the options left open to investigators.
She told the board: “It just shows if you dedicate resources to it, you get the victim on board and are able to prosecute.
“That has been recognised and is part of the picture of what we do across the force,” she said.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Forber added: “We are really encouraged by the work in Barnsley and are actively looking at how we can roll out a similar approach across the force.”
The promised increase in officer numbers next year should give commanders the flexibility to divert more staff into that work: “There is real scope to improve outcomes,” he said.
Chief Constable Stephen Watson also explained how the force now tries to protect children caught up in domestic incidents.
“Most victims are women and there are children in the household,” he said.
“We have a safeguarding responsibility.”
That meant material gathered by officers in the ‘criminal realm’ could be packaged up and used in civil proceedings to make sure protection was in place for children.
“There are too many people left in a vulnerable place, worried about their children and their long term safety,” he said.
South Yorkshire Police now increasingly promote civil action to protect victims of domestic violence, but at present they have to find the cash to take that legal action forward and the staff time to do so.
Across the country, chief constables are now increasingly wanting the Ministry of Justice to change the rules so police can operate without having to bear those financial burdens.