Norfolk police praised for domestic violence work

Norfolk police has been singled out as one of the top performing police forces in the country in the way officers deal with domestic violence.

The praise came from the Keir Starmer QC, director of public prosecutions (DPP), during a speech to legal experts and support groups at an event in London yesterday.

Norfolk was highlighted as having one of the highest conviction rates in the country for domestic violence - in 2009/10 there were 971 successful court convictions equating to 79.7pc.

During the speech Mr Starmer said: 'When I visited Norfolk recently, as part of my frequent visits to CPS staff on the ground, I was pleased to find some really good examples of best practice in evidence gathering and the use of 999 tapes in particular. In Norfolk, 999 tapes are a routine part of the evidence used in domestic violence cases.

'All 999 calls are recorded by the police on to a digital hard drive, called a red box recorder. The police send the CPS charging lawyer the 999 call attached to an email, together with a CD on which it is recorded. The process of locating the 999 recording and downloading it takes about 10 minutes.'

Detective Inspector Ross McDermott, of Norfolk Constabulary's vulnerable persons department and lead for domestic abuse, said he was pleased the force had been recognised for its role in trying to combat domestic violence.

He said: 'It is always good to receive such notable praise particularly on a national level. In Norfolk we take a robust stance against all reports of domestic abuse and we are fully committed to bringing offenders to justice.

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'Our priority is to ensure repeat victims and their families get the help and support they need and we will continue our focus on solving and resolving the offences that are important to the public.'

Examples of good practice in Norfolk include the trial of an initiative to ensure officers investigating domestic violence incidents in the county exhaust all lines of possible enquiry before it is deemed 'no further action' (NFA) can be taken.

Officers are asked to take any NFA proposal to a Detective Sergeant or Detective Inspector to further examine the details.

The Evening News's Don't Suffer in Silence campaign aims to highlight the problem of domestic violence and the plight of thousands of victims.

The campaign has already focused on the role the police and support groups play in combating abuse.

Do you have a story to tell after escaping an abusive partner? Call reporter Ben Kendall on 01603 772423.