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More than 130 women in danger of being murdered or seriously injured by former partners

By DaveCDM  |  Posted: March 03, 2014

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More than 130 women in Devon and Cornwall were at risk of being murdered or seriously injured in cases of domestic violence by partners or former partners, police figures show.

The force released a snapshot figure for October last year of people, mainly women, who were categorised as being at high risk of facing a violent death in the home or of suffering severe violence.

The Guardian collated assessments from 33 of the 44 forces in England, Wales and Scotland which revealed that 10,952 people were regarded as being in danger.

In Devon and Cornwall, which has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse in the country, the number was 134.

Officers who assess the potential risk to victims at domestic violence incidents largely use a national protocol called DASH – domestic abuse, stalking and honour-based violence – although some still use their own assessments or judgment of officers at the scene.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Risk assessment is a dynamic process therefore data relating to number of high risk victims at any one time will not be constant.

“The risk assessment will be reviewed by trained and experienced officers from specialist domestic abuse units who may regrade them.

“All high risk domestic abuse victims will receive the highest level of service from the force and partner agencies in order to reduce the risk to them. This will include formal consideration at a Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC). All victims will then have a plan of action put into place to ensure that their safety is constantly reviewed.”

Monthly snapshot figures from forces varied wildly. In Sussex, 211 women were at high risk of being murdered or suffering serious harm from former partners while in Surrey the figure was 17.

In the Metropolitan Police area just 87 women and children were assessed as being at high risk in one month.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of domestic violence support charity Refuge, said women and children at the highest risk should receive proper protection and that police should not regard assessment as a “tick box” exercise.

She told the Guardian: “There is no point in doing a risk assessment if the knowledge gained does not lead to proactive safety planning measures that keep women and children safe from violent men. I am deeply concerned that in too many cases this does not happen.”

DASH provides national standards for identifying women and children at the highest risk of domestic violence so police and other agencies, including health and social services, can intervene.

Assistant Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe, spokeswoman for the Association of Chief Police Officers on domestic violence, said it was critical for officers to understand risk so they could protect potential victims.

She said: “While forces may capture this information in different ways I am working with forces and the College of Policing to ensure a consistent and positive police response for every victim, focused upon ensuring their safety.”

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  • twofeetofsnow  |  March 03 2014, 12:43PM

    How many of these women are on record as having withdrawn complaints against their partners after deciding "He'll change", "I love him" and "It was my fault"? So many cases are droppped by police because they can't bring a prosecution without a complaint, please Cornishman it is no use publishing headlines if little can be done to correct the situation, publish articles encouraging victims to do what they know is right. If you've been the victim of domestic violence, don't complain and then change your mind, follow the complaint through, seek help and make sure it doesn't end up being just another newspaper report. Be safe, not sorry.

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