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Cause of concern
The force’s response to domestic abuse is a cause of concern to HMIC. The force policy which allows an officer discretion to complete a DASH risk assessment in some crimes and incidents does not provide confidence that risk is always assessed appropriately. This is an enduring cause of concern from HMIC’s report on vulnerability in 2015 and is one of the recommendations from HMIC’s report on its domestic abuse inspection in 2014 that still needs to be implemented. In cases where a DASH risk assessment is not completed the officer should record an assessment on the crime management system. HMIC found that officers are not consistently completing a DASH in circumstances where force policy requires that they should do so. This means that some victims of domestic abuse who may be at risk of harm are not being appropriately risk-assessed.
To address this cause of concern, HMIC recommends the force should immediately take steps to ensure that:
• there is effective supervision of the initial risk assessment process, specifically in relation to the completion of DASH risk assessment in appropriate cases.
[on]2nd March 2017 [status]awaiting-review[/status][/on][on]8th May 2018 [status]being-progressed[/status][/on][on]8th May 2018 [comment]
The force has introduced a new process and governance structure to manage HMICFRS recommendations. An initial meeting to discuss recommendations was held with WMD Force Liaison Officer Steve Barley and Sharanjit Dhillon on 26 April 2018. There is now a nominated owner (senior officer) for each recommendation, an action tracker system on Sharepoint where activity undertaken to address the recommendation is recorded and a scrutiny/sign off process that is led by chief officers.
The force has begun collating information from different sources about activity and actions taken to address recommendations and the process to summarise the force position for each one is underway. The HMICFRS Force Liaison Lead will work with the force to review activity to date, assess the current position for each recommendation and monitor progress through the new process. Recommendations will be submitted to the HMICFRS regional chief of staff for sign off when appropriate.
The nominated owner of this action is: Ch Supt Claire Bell.
[/comment][/on][on]9th July 2018 [comment]
8795 – Owner: Supt Sally Holmes (DASH compliance)
The completion of a DASH risk assessment is now mandatory for all incidents of domestic abuse. The introduction of mobile devices means that electronic completion and submission is now possible, enabling quicker data availability and supervisor review. The force has instructed that the use of paper DASH forms should cease.
The compliance rate for May 2018 was about 70% – the force attributes the shortfall in completion to non-cooperation from victims and the discontinuance of paper forms.
Further assessment by HMICFRS will include a review of the force domestic abuse policy, vulnerability improvement plan and reality testing with staff. The use of DASH will also be a feature of the IPA fieldwork in November 2018.
[/comment][/on][on]14th January 2019 [comment]
The owner of this business area, as part of the wider DA portfolio, is D/Supt Richard North. DASH policy and compliance was inspected during the IPA inspection in November 2018. Key findings included:
• Completion of a DASH assessment is mandatory at each DA incident • There is an electronic DASH app for officers to complete on mobile devices• DASH compliance is around 80% and improving. This measurement is for electronic completion only. The true figure, including completion of paper DASH forms by officers without mobile devices, cannot be accurately ascertained.• The force believes that a ‘true’ full compliance figure will be about 93% when the effect of the number of historic DA incidents reported some time after the event is included. Work continues to move all officers to electronic completion of DASH with suitable supervisory oversight. • A working group exists to improve DASH processes and compliance, led by D/Supt North, and is a subgroup of the wider vulnerability improvement group.• When DASH forms are completed supervisor engagement and review is generally good.
The force position around DASH compliance (known in the force as DASH interventions) has improved. There is a recognition that there is still work to do to refine DASH processes and further improve supervisory oversight, however there is a clear momentum in place and sufficient organisational drive to make improvements.
The force is restructuring its public protection unit, including DA investigations, in February 2019 as part of the long-term change programme for the force. The objectives of the change include the improved assessment of risk, the better triage/management of PPU crime investigations and more manageable workloads for officers and staff. This work will also have an impact on DASH processes and how effectively they are completed.
This recommendation is not yet ready for closure, but I am satisfied that there is sufficient ongoing focus on this recommendation that a further review after the completion of PPU changes is appropriate.