Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

Dame Vera Baird welcomes national report on domestic abuse

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, and a patron of Operation Encompass, which champions engagement with schools when a child is known to have experienced domestic abuse, yesterday, (Tuesday, 19 September) welcomed the findings of an Ofsted report which states professionals have made progress in responding to the large volume of cases of domestic abuse. However, she has echoed calls for prevention to be given equal priority moving forward.

Inspectors from Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, and HM Inspectorate of Probation carried out joint inspections of 6 areas in England. Their report, which evaluated the multi-agency response for children living with domestic concluded that the police and other agencies are often doing a good job to protect victims but too little is being done to prevent domestic abuse in the first place, and to repair the damage it causes afterwards.

In some areas, improvements through the implementation of Operation Encompass, a national charity ran scheme for which Dame Vera is patron, have been highlighted in the report. The scheme is where police contact a school’s ‘key adult’ by 9am if a child has been involved in an incident of domestic abuse. Key adults are given training on how to effectively respond to this information. Operation Encompass is fully-rolled out through the Northumbria force area with great success and Dame Vera has previously called on the Government to take responsibility and ensure this effective information-sharing model is adopted by every police force, for every school, for every child.

Dame Vera Baird QC said: “This report demonstrates some positive steps that are being made in how domestic abuse call-outs are responded to, and while Northumbria was not one of the areas inspected, I know considerable progress has been made in our area. We are leading the way in terms of information sharing and preventative work, and also in our work to support children and promote healthy relationships through a range of schemes and initiatives.

“As the report states, the police can’t do this work alone. Partnership work is very strong here; there is a shared commitment with statutory partners and volunteer sector specialists across the region to ensuring victims of domestic abuse have access to the best support possible and through perpetrator programmes, early intervention work and multi-agency tasking and co-ordination (MATAC) processes, officers and partners are working hard to put a stop to appalling behaviours. Work must not stop at safeguarding victims and we recognise that.

“This is all positive stuff, which Northumbria plans to build on, and our work has been recognised by the Home Office, which has recently awarded funding to help us expand our Whole System Approach (WSA) to tackling domestic abuse throughout neighbouring forces within the North East region. We want to be the best police force for tackling domestic abuse and it will remain a top priority for our officers.”