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Video response to domestic abuse leads to 50 per cent more arrests

Victims also receive response within three minutes on average compared to 33 hours for in person dispatch

Police make 50 per cent more arrests of domestic abusers when the initial contact with the victim is made via rapid video contact rather than having a car dispatched to the scene, according to new research,

The research funded by the Home Office involving Kent Police and Cambridge University is based on 517 DA cases reported in mid-2021 in which the perpetrator had already left the scene.

Professor Larry Sherman from the Cambridge Journal of Evidence-Based Policing said the findings have major implications for both domestic abuse and police management of requests for assistance.

He added: “Offenders have already left the scene when most domestic incidents reach police call-takers.Providing rapid assurance in all such cases worked better for victims in this experiment, as well as reducing the police carbon footprint.”

As a result of the trial Kent Police has now rolled out a video response option across the force.

The 517-case randomised controlled trial was restricted to cases in which offenders were no longer co-present with the victims, and where an immediate emergency response was not required.

Conducted in February to May of 2021, it offered video service as a voluntary option. When police call-takers asked eligible victims for consent to speak to an officer on video instead of in person, 75% agreed; others received the standard service. Among those agreeing when the video option was available, 264 victims were immediately linked to a uniformed police officer on video, while 253 received the standard response without any video contact.

Those who received the video service spoke to an officer within 3 minutes, on average. Those receiving the standard service received a follow-up visit from a police officer in an average of 33 hours following their initial call.

Officers arrested half again as many suspects after an initial video contact (24%) than with traditional deployment responses (16%). Victims also reported more increases in trust and confidence in Kent Police with the video service, although there were also increases based on standard service.

A follow-up survey of 416 of the callers served (80%) found no reduction in satisfaction with the video service, which was high for both groups.

Detective Chief Superintendent Sam Price, domestic abuse change lead at Kent Police, said: "All calls received by Kent Police are prioritised according to the level of threat, risk and harm, and victims can therefore be assured that Rapid Video Response is not a replacement for a traditional call-back or officer visit. It is also important to note that our call-takers who receive the initial contact from victims are also fully-trained and able to offer immediate advice and support to those who would prefer to wait for an in-person visit.

“We are pleased with the outcome of this trial and have now launched RVR across the whole of Kent, which will further improve the service we provide to victims of domestic abuse.”

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