New unit investigating record levels of abuse in Hertfordshire

Woman in fear of domestic abuse PPP-151014-095531001
Woman in fear of domestic abuse PPP-151014-095531001
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Domestic abuse accounts for 13 per cent of all the crimes Hertfordshire Police deal with – so it’s important it has its own dedicated unit to investigate them all.

It’s been a year since the unit – the Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit (DAISU) – was launched in January 2016.

DCI Ruth Dodsworth, PCC David Lloyd, and Superintendent Paul Maghie, Head of Safeguarding for Hertfordshire Constabulary. They are pictured celebrating the first anniversary of DAISU.

DCI Ruth Dodsworth, PCC David Lloyd, and Superintendent Paul Maghie, Head of Safeguarding for Hertfordshire Constabulary. They are pictured celebrating the first anniversary of DAISU.

And it’s certainly been a busy year. In 2016, the Constabulary received more than 18,500 reports related to domestic abuse within intimate relationships.

This resulted in around 6,500 criminal investigations, including harassment, assault, stalking and attempted murder, which is an increase of almost 21 per cent compared to the previous year.

Detective Chief Inspector Ruth Dodsworth, head of DAISU, said: “Domestic abuse is a prioritised part of daily business throughout the Force.

“It has provided a centre of expertise, in the fight against this often complex area of policing.”

As well as bringing offenders to justice, much of the work of teams is taken up with supporting and protecting victims and their families.

Officers applied for 28 domestic violence prevention orders (DVPOs) since the launch, banning suspects from contacting their victims.

It has also dealt with more than 60 applications for disclosure of a suspect’s past under the ‘Clare’s Law’ scheme – named after Clare Wood, who was killed by her partner in Salford in 2009.

DAISU recently secured its first conviction for the relatively new offence of coercive control.

The victim, a woman from Herts, met her ex-partner when she was a teenager. They went on to have an on/off relationship for seven years.

Following a final incident in December 2016, he was charged by police and in crown court in January, he admitted assault causing actual bodily harm and coercive control. He was sentenced to two years in prison.

The victim has now moved from her previous property in order to remain safe.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “After the last incident I thought he would take my life or my children.

“He said he would burn us and the only thing left of my children would be their teeth. I could see it, I really felt that this would happen.

“But if you reach out, someone will help you. And it’s never going to get better until you choose to do that.

“I thought that my kids would be taken away. I thought that the police would judge me. But that’s not the case. If I had known it then I would’ve got help earlier.”

The unit is being backed by Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd, who said domestic abuse remains one of his ‘top priorities’ to tackle.

He said: “Over the last year we’ve had more police referrals, prosecutions and convictions for domestic abuse than ever before.

“That’s because people are more confident in reporting allegations and the DAISU has been strengthened to help it do even more in the future.”

Anyone affected by domestic abuse can get guidance and support by calling the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline on 08 088 088 088, or head online to www.HertsSunflower.org