Force staff up to speed on new offence

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.

Vera Baird has expressed her hope that other police forces are following Northumbria’s lead on introducing a procedure for tackling and handling domestic abuse.

The Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner launched an initiative earlier this year to combat domestic abuse and help staff identify coercive control, which is expected to become a criminal offence next month.

Her comments come as the College of Policing has developed a new Authorised Professional Practice, which focuses on coercive control and details how to spot patterns of abuse and gather appropriate evidence without relying on the victim.

Pre-empting this new law, Northumbria Police spent six months developing a training programme with an expert team including experienced police officers, third sector victims, support services and local authority domestic abuse co-ordinators. Staff in all ranks and roles have now completed the programme.

Mrs Baird said: “With the training taking place in Northumbria, we’re already one step ahead.

“I’m also delighted that our training and toolkit is an exemplar to other forces in tackling domestic abuse and I hope that the new guidance will benefit as many victims as possible.

“Coercive control consists of intimidation and humiliation, including threats, stalking, verbal abuse, stopping contact with friends and family and deprivation of money or even food. It makes them feel very isolated and dependant on the abuser.

“Recently I’ve been hearing great praise for our officers on their careful and understanding handling of domestic abuse cases. The training is paying off and I’m proud of the service we offer for victims in Northumbria.”