The Metropolitan Police Authority Domestic and Sexual Violence Board’s (DSVB) first annual report, published on 20 January 2010, urges the Met to engage with London’s diverse communities to tackle domestic and sexual abuse.
Set up in April 2009, the DSVB monitors, scrutinises and supports the Met response to domestic and sexual violence. Met Forward, the MPA mission statement for London’s police to fight crime and increase public confidence, recognises the need for a greater concentration of effort in this area.
Membership of the DSVB also provides a channel for building better links with the voluntary sector to work with the Met to deal with serious sexual violence, as recommended in the IPCC report of the investigation of the Worboys case.
Kirsten Hearn, co-Chair of the DSVB, said:
“This has been a rewarding year for the DSVB. We have looked at seven boroughs’ responses to domestic and sexual violence and identified examples of excellent practice, creative problem solving, and commitment to keeping survivors of domestic and sexual violence safe. However, we have also found areas for improvement, for example in the consistency across boroughs in terms of accurately recording information, most notably relating to diversity. The MPS must ensure it understands the communities it serves. The two strongest messages we heard from our guest speakers and throughout our discussions with boroughs are that these crimes are under-reported, and victims need to be heard. “
Valerie Brasse, co-Chair, added;
“Tackling domestic and sexual violence is dependent on good partnership working - we have seen some excellent examples of this and the impact it has on people's lives. Now is not the time for partnerships to be cutting back in this area - to do so would have real adverse consequences for victims and their families. We know the impact such abuse has on children and cuts now would hit public service budgets hard later as they try to pick up the pieces further downstream.”
The DSVB annual report identifies and collates the issues that were presented and discussed at a number of meetings, some of which may be relevant for other front line service delivery agencies.
Recommendations for the Met in the report include the need for consistent recording of diversity data to ensure they meet the needs of London’s communities, considering options for accessing feedback from victims of domestic abuse, and ensuring that information about who is reporting to police is recorded appropriately. This would facilitate engagement with communities which is central to developing community confidence, one of the key aims of Met Forward.
The report concludes that the work of the DSVB in the past year is one voice among many. Sara Payne’s report also highlighted the national experience of victims of rape and drew the same conclusion in relation to consistency. There are committed, professional, caring officers across London and elsewhere providing an excellent service to the public and the DVSB aims to make that the standard.
Notes to editors
1. DVSB meetings are open to the public. See www.mpa.gov.uk/dsvb for further information.
2. Each meeting of the board examines work taking place within two London boroughs. In 2009, Bexley, Greenwich, Richmond, Merton, Wandsworth, Lambeth and Southwark presented their response to domestic and sexual violence locally.
3. The board expanded from its focus on domestic violence in April 2009 following the launch of The Way Forward, a London strategy to tackle violence against women, and a national strategy with the same aim.
4. The DSVB also holds annual thematic meetings exploring issues such as abuse of older people and disabled people in London, and shares best practice and innovation across the capital. One example of this is the public protection ‘critical success factors’ identified in the annual report, which was shared with the DSVB in April by Bexley. The DSVB has commissioned Lambeth to outline critical success factors in partnership working, and will continue to be a catalyst for organisational learning across the Met. All the boroughs that have attended the meetings this year have bespoke action plans for local service delivery improvements.
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