Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner spent the morning of Monday, 16 January 2017 visiting police officers, police staff and partner agencies based in the Mary Woollett Centre in Doncaster.
The centre is a hub comprising a team of professionals and practitioners from various agencies who work closely together to prevent, investigate and safeguard vulnerable adults and children who are at risk of domestic abuse, sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation.
Professionals from South Yorkshire Police and Doncaster Council, work closely together to risk assess referrals on a daily basis, to either investigate harm/crime that has already been caused or prevent those at high risk.
On his visit Dr Billings met with professionals from the Doncaster Police Safeguarding Adults Team (SAT) and the Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVA) who work together in the same office. They were able to explain the benefits of working together in a hub environment to share information, discuss casework and identify opportunities to work and safeguard high risk individuals.
Dr Billings said: “The model that they have here in Doncaster to work closely together is obviously working very well. It was interesting to see how partners share information quickly and efficiently when working in person at the same location. This means they can utilise most of their time putting measures in place to keep people safe, rather than chasing up emails and administration.
“It is a difficult subject to discuss, as for each case the unit handles there is a potential risk to a person’s safety. We should not forget the work the practitioners undertake on a daily basis, and I am very grateful for their professionalism and dedication in working so hard to address these issues that now present themselves not only in South Yorkshire, but across the country.
“Many cases of sexual assault or domestic abuse do not make it to court due to a number of reasons, even though a huge amount of work is still undertaken on these cases. The experience can be extremely harrowing for victims who rely on the financial aspect of a relationship or do not want to take a parent away from their children. This does not stop our dedicated professionals in doing the best they can to signpost victims to support services and offer them advice and help throughout their ordeal. It is clear that the safeguarding and risk management of vulnerable people is a priority with any successful prosecution an added bonus”.
The Commissioner also visited the Police Child Abuse/Child Sexual Exploitation Teams, DMBC Local Referral Teams and Police Local Referral Unit to see for himself the huge volume of referrals made to the Hub on a weekly basis.
Detective Constable Matthew Jackson said: “It was good to see the Commissioner visit the unit on Monday. I met the commissioner at an event organised by Doncaster Growing Futures in December 2016. He was very keen to visit our offices at the Mary Woollett Centre and see in practice how we strive to safeguard the vulnerable residents in Doncaster”.
“The Police cannot do this alone and we rely heavily on partner agencies (and they on us) to undertake and manage the huge risk that exists in accomplishing this task. Operational police officers have been working in partnership at the Mary Woollett Centre for 3 years and I feel that the model works well. It was good for him to see that by housing all of these professionals under one roof, and in one office in some cases, how we can all work more efficiently to try and prevent harm, safeguard and manage risk”.
The visit to the Mary Woollett Centre was part of the Commissioners regular visits to officers throughout the districts. He often visits local policing teams and attends briefings where possible to speak to both police officers and staff about their work.