One of my key roles as Police and Crime Commissioner is to hold the Chief Constable to account on behalf of the public, and make sure that Derbyshire Constabulary deliver on the key strategic priorities included in my Police and Crime Plan 2021/2025.
The Performance Scrutiny Meetings are just one of the ways that I hold the Chief Constable to account. It is an opportunity for the force to provide extensive evidence on their performance and plans for improvements where necessary on the key priorities. It is also an opportunity for the public to send in specific additional questions.
Victim Support and Safeguarding is a key priorities in my Police and Crime Plan and I am committed to working with the Constabulary and other partners.
I would like to thank everyone who has taken he time to submit a question. My office received 4 questions in total, which were addressed during the meeting.
Below are the questions that were submitted to me, alongside the response to those questions from the Chief Constable.
Please be advised that the next PSM meeting is on Wednesday 4 October and the topic is Rural Crime. Please see the website for more details on upcoming PSM’s for the rest of the year.
Thank you once again for taking the time to submit a question.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire
Public Questions Submitted
Q1) In my experience the most traumatic part of being a victim was, in the end, not the actual crime but rather dealing with the police. The best support a victim can get is an efficient and effective police investigation. Failing that, I finally gained comfort from reading the Casey Review and watching the BBC docudrama, Four Lives. It gave me some peace to realise I was not alone and there was nothing I could have done differently to force the police into action. When I finally rang Victim Services for help, I asked whether there were any support groups for victims suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome (an American concept of the trauma caused when the criminal justice system fails victims – and indeed exacerbates their suffering). I was told no such support was available. Are there any plans to facilitate local or national forums where survivors can exchange their stories of injustice and start to heal? Resident from High Peak
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner have been procuring a service to run a lived experience group and the constabulary are actively involved in this process, to introduce a group, where victims can talk about their experience so that the force can improve its policies and procedures and importantly the service and support for victims. There is also a Victim’s board which is joint chaired with between the Constabulary and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, this enables joint monitoring of Victims views. Whilst these groups are not intended for survivors to exchange stories, we will discuss the desire for this with victims as we develop the group. By us listening more to victims, we intend for them to have a much greater voice within the criminal justice system
While these are plans underway, we do already invite victims of domestic abuse through survey work, whether they wish to be involved in focus groups to provide a network of people prepared to give us their opinions, ideas, and experience.
The force is also developing a Victims App which will provide victims a 24/7 mechanism to provide their thoughts and feelings about the service they are receiving, allowing us to me much more responsive to their needs.
Q2) What is being done to improve Victim Support. There have been well publicised cases where Victim Support has been very poor. Resident from Bolsover
The force and the OPCC undertake contract monitoring meetings with victim services providers, through which we discuss Victims’ experiences and assess how services are being provided. The performance of victim services is monitored and reviewed during these meetings and any issues addressed.
The force also conducts its own satisfaction surveys, which includes questions about the service which victims received from support services, with any feedback actioned through the contract monitoring meetings. The force also works closely with victims’ services to consider whether changes in crime types require additional or revised services, or whether needs can be met through existing services. We hope in time that service provision will also be better informed by the lived experience groups.
Q3) Who is responsible for ensuring that private organisations that provide children’s activities in Derbyshire are fulfilling their statutory responsibilities in relation to safeguarding in accordance with The Children’s Act 2004 and how is this being enacted? Resident from High Peak
The Derby and Derbyshire Children’s Safeguarding Partnership, work collaboratively, to ensure that statutory responsibilities are met in relation to the safeguarding of Children. This is both in relation to Working Together 2018 and The Children’s Act 2004. The Police are a statutory partner to this, along with local authority and health, however work with wider partners both in relation to statutory and non-statutory agencies to effectively fulfil these responsibilities. The work which the partnership undertakes encompasses preventative activity as well as taking appropriate interventions where required.
Q4) With regard to violence and crime against women and girls at neighbourhood levels, what does victim centred policing look like? In respect of this what are the main challenges the Derbyshire Constabulary face? Resident from Amber Valley
Victim centred policing, put simply is about us placing the victims needs at the centre of our decision making. We want to support victims who report a crime, ensuring they are listened to, appropriately safeguarded, and supported throughout an investigation and any subsequent criminal justice process. The main challenges for violence against women and girls have been reported on and underpin the national strategy along with both the police and partnership action plans.
A national framework was established by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), led by DCC Maggie Blyth. The framework details a number of recommendations to bring about consistency across all 43 police forces. Derbyshire has developed a VAWG action plan which aligns itself to this framework to ensure all the recommendations are met and to support the development of a platform to share experience and best practice. A dedicated VAWG tactical force lead ensures effective coordination of activity.
At a high-level, these are building trust and confidence in policing; creating safer spaces as women and girls feeling safe is just as important as being safe; and relentlessly pursuing offenders, which focuses on maximising all available opportunities both civil and criminal to reduce the risk of further offending. As we continue to work through our approach to VAWG, sustainable funding is essential to maintaining appropriate provision against this priority, this ranges from ensuring we maintain a fit for purpose digital capability, specialist investigative units, to local provision that is key in early identification and intervention.
In addition to the police activity detailed above and recognising VAWG requires a true partnership approach, a strategic VAWG Partnership Board has been established, underpinned by a Partnership VAWG strategy. Membership includes Derbyshire police, OPCC, Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council and Derbyshire Fire and Rescue. The key workstreams are, Prioritising Prevention, Supporting Victims, Pursuing Perpetrators, and Reducing Reoffending. The partnership meets a regular intervals to ensure progression against the strategy.