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The Domestic Abuse Unit

December 9th 2014 | DS Manny de Freitas

The Domestic Abuse Unit (DAU) is made up of two detectives and one sergeant. The Domestic Abuse Officers (DAO) have a responsibility to maintain an overview of all incidents of domestic abuse within Jersey classified as Medium and High Risk. The risk is ultimately managed by the sergeant. The DAO strives to identify particular families or individuals where multi-agency working, or positive Police action may help prevent or reduce the frequency or severity of incidents. This work is undertaken in conjunction with the Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) who work with the highest risk victims.

The initial domestic abuse incident is usually attended by uniformed officers who have the difficult task of dealing with whatever confronts them. These officers will ensure that victims and children are safeguarded and perpetrators are dealt with robustly. Then they will gather evidence in support of a police investigation. On returning to the Police Station they complete a report which will be reviewed by the DAU the following morning.

The DAO will research Police systems for information relating to that particular situation, to build a picture and help with risk assessment. During the daily domestic abuse meeting all cases from the previous day are discussed. The risk of harm to victims and children are the focus and safeguarding plans are put in place. If appropriate the DAO may make direct contact with the victim. The DAO can offer the victim support or advice in the form of a referral to various agencies, including the IDVAs, Women’s Refuge, Children’s Service, Probation Service, Drug and Alcohol, Victim Support Scheme etc.

High Risk domestic abuse cases will be investigated by members of the DAU who are specially trained in this area and will have a good understanding of the case and the family dynamics. They interview suspects, record victim statements and compile files to the standard required to prosecute offenders in court. This will be overseen by the domestic abuse sergeant. DAOs work closely with the Police Legal Advisors to ensure that investigations meet the highest standards required for successful prosecutions.

Children are often the innocent and un-intended victims of domestic abuse. They can be affected either directly by being assaulted during domestic incidents, or indirectly, by witnessing the violence in their home. Consequently incidents where it is believed that children are involved in high risk situations are brought to the attention of Children’s Service. The DAO may subsequently complete joint home visits with Children’s Service and attend Professionals meetings and Initial Child Protection Conferences, to share information and ensure a co-ordinated response.

The DAU may also assist or advise other police officers with the domestic abuse investigations. The DAU can also be required to investigate complaints of "Historic Domestic Abuse". It is often the case that the victim has suffered years of abuse before making the first call for help.

The DAU has a responsibility to ensure that all Police officers are aware of current Policies and procedures for domestic abuse. This includes assisting the Police training department with inputs to Probationary Officers, and addressing uniform shifts. On occasions DAOs are required to present to partner agencies and schools on the dangers of domestic abuse and current Police policies and procedures.

 

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