A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) release today (Wednesday 23 June 2021) has found that the police responded proactively to prevent domestic abuse and protect victims during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whilst the pandemic was found to have put domestic abuse victims at greater risk, police forces across the country have been praised for making good use of technology and working with partners to find new ways to support victims.
Dr Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, has praised South Yorkshire Police for its work in identifying domestic abuse as a priority responding to ensure that victims were protected and supported. He has also pledged to continue to ensure the work is funded to enable that support to be maintained.
Speaking in response to the publication of the report, Dr Billings said: “I am pleased that the inspectors have found that overall police forces across the country responded well to prevent domestic abuse and protect victims during the pandemic.
“South Yorkshire Police quickly realised that victims were at great risk as they were locked down with partners for long periods of time and actively took measures to help them.
“Those suffering abuse who were afraid of talking to anyone, were encouraged to use the ‘silent solution’ in emergencies by dialling 999 followed by 55, and leaving their phone on.
“Call handlers were trained in careful listening and assessing what they were hearing and sending officers if appropriate. SYP also enabled victims to use an on-line facility that did not look as if they were contacting the police.
“However, during this time, progressing court cases became difficult as courts had to be adapted to ensure social distancing and a backlog of cases grew.
“Longer term, domestic abuse remains a priority in my Police and Crime Plan for South Yorkshire. I have funded a training course – ‘Domestic Abuse Matters’ – so that all front-line officers and call handlers understand what domestic abuse is and the various forms it can take.
“I have supported the chief constable in establishing domestic abuse specialist officers in each district across South Yorkshire.
“I will ensure that funding is available to continue with the progress made so far and ensure that people are both encouraged to report and to help to remain engaged and go to court where that is necessary.”
The HMICFRS report Review of policing domestic abuse during the pandemic and associated press release is available on the HMICFRS website.