Written evidence submitted by the Office of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner (POP0100)

Additional submission to the inquiry on Policing priorities

The Centre for Justice Innovation conducted an evaluation on the impact of the Westminster Specialist Court and its effectiveness in responding to DA when compared to a non-specialist court response. The evaluation found:

Following the 2020 HMICFRS ‘A call for help’ report’, which found that call volumes were increasing in number and complexity and that public demand was in danger of overwhelming the police, Kent Police developed a pilot to see whether they could improve victim satisfaction and efficiency by providing an optional immediate video response from a uniformed officer to all domestic abuse victims. The force ran a trial which allowed victims to receive a video call when their perpetrator was not present, rather than delaying a face to face attendance. Individuals who received RVR received a faster response, taking three minutes to speak to an officer compared to approximately 33 hours for those who received a standard, physical, delayed service offering. The RVR service also took two hours and two minutes per case, compared with the three hours and 21 minutes which a physical response took. Female victims of DA (who made up 69% of callers) reported increased levels of satisfaction at 89% compared to 78% for the standard delayed in person service.

The benefits of multi-agency working can be demonstrated by Project Shield in North Yorkshire. Project Shield is a multi-agency scheme aimed at preventing harm by delivering an improved service around the enforcement of non-molestation orders (NMOs). The pilot introduced streamlined process for recording NMOs issued by the courts and recorded them on the Police National Database, thereby allowing the police to see if an order had been issued and monitor any breaches. The pilot was delivered in partnership with HMCTS, IDAS (a DA service), CGI and Edge Hill University. The pilot had a considerable impact as it enabled the police to respond more effectively when victims reported breaches of their NMOs and helped the police to take decisive safeguarding action to prevent harm from occurring.

MATAC is a multi-agency approach which identifies and responds to serial or high harm perpetrators of abuse using a whole-systems approach. The main purpose of MATAC is to reduce reoffending of the most harmful and serial domestic abuse perpetrators through preventing further offending and to safeguard victims and families. MATAC was developed in Northumbria in 2015, following receipt of Home Office Innovation Funding to tackle Domestic Abuse following the publication of the 2014 HMIC Report, Everyone’s Business, Improving the police response to domestic abuse. MATAC is led by the police force in a local area and uses a pro-active intelligence-led process to identify the most harmful and serial perpetrators of domestic abuse. Following its pilot in Northumbria, 13 other forces in England and Wales indicated adoption of the MATAC approach, however it is unclear how many forces currently use MATAC as a way of managing perpetrators.

A MATAC is comprised of a wide range of agency partners, including the police, adult social care, children’s social care, health, rehabilitation services, housing, IDVAs and probation. All partner agencies sign up to an Information Sharing Agreement, whereby it is agreed that they will share intelligence and data to help identify potential perpetrators who require further investigation and also report on their progress throughout the MATAC process. A multi-agency plan is agreed for individual perpetrators at MATAC meetings, where they consider the best interventions for a perpetrator’s behaviour.

Once a perpetrator is identified, they are served with a Warning Letter informing them that they have been flagged as a dangerous perpetrator. They are then given the option to engage with perpetrator programmes, as well as other services, including substance misuse referrals, housing assistance and other relevant multi-agency support. Where perpetrators do not engage, the police commence a four stage process of prevention, diversion, disruption and enforcement as part of their harm reduction plan. This may include using methods like restraining orders, non-molestation orders, surveillance, or prosecuting outstanding offences.


May 2023