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Hampshire welcomes “demand on forces” to tackle PPDA

Hampshire Constabulary has welcomed yesterday’s report and its recommendations into Police Perpetrated Domestic Abuse (PPDA).

Originally one of the forces mentioned within the Centre for Women's Justice super complaint, Hampshire was cited within yesterday's report through reference to the proactive approaches the force has already taken towards PPDA. 

The force has a specific oversight panel which will sit once a month looking at DA cases which come into the force as well as having oversight over serving officers, staff and volunteers who are suspected to be perpetrators. 

Inspector Debbie Ashthorpe told Police Oracle that Hampshire was an early adopter force for the DA Matters training course back in 2018. She said it was then when they began to understand just how many of their workforce had lived experience of domestic abuse. 

Meanwhile, an anonymous survey that the force also rolled out in 2018 received 391 responses - half of which said that they had been a victim of domestic abuse while they worked for the Constabulary. 

“There were two words that people said to us that were difficult for us, and that was that people suffered shame and embarrassment by being the victim of domestic abuse,” Inspector Ashthorpe said. 

“Domestic abuse obviously is really complex anyway but when you're a police victim of domestic abuse, you suffer additional barriers [...] a very large part of that is around confidentiality, because [there’s concern over] who's going to find out.” 

Hampshire rewrote their force policies in June 2021, incorporating a ‘Domestic Abuse Workforce Pledge’ with 10 points including a promise that victims will be listened to and that investigations will never be conducted by anyone who knows either party. 

Since the new policies were introduced last June, they have seen 80 cases where an officer or staff member was involved either as an alleged perpetrator or victim. 

Insp Ashthorpe said: “All forces will have the same issues as we've got - that you have a duty of care to your employees, but at the same time, we're the police, and we record and we investigate.

“It’s really knotty and its taken a lot of thought and tenacity to unpick.” 

One of the issues highlighted in the report was around ambiguity in how police victims report domestic abuse. Hampshire has specific guides for colleagues, managers and perpetrators in this area.  

For Insp Ashthorpe: “The crux of it was around people being able to understand what was needed. 

“You've got your 999 route, 101 and online reporting. We've also got a route of reporting formally to your manager, a route of reporting to peers and we've clarified exactly what conversation you can have with your manager and your colleague before a formal report has to go in.” 

More recently, in May, the force has appointed an Independant Domestic Abuse Advisor (IDVA) who is there expressly for police victims and external victims in cases with police perpetrators. They are independently employed and victims can speak with them for advice without an obligation for a report to be made to the police. 

A further initiative has been to appoint a senior oversight officer, so all victims of PPDA, internal and external, will be allocated and offered the services of a chief inspector or above. 

“I accept the findings of the report completely, and I welcome the call on forces and the demand on forces to actually do something about it,” Insp Ashthorpe said. 

“It's only by really understanding it and seeing what works and thinking about next steps that we that [improve] and you have to be very honest about that and work together.” 

Insp Ashthorpe has invited contact from other forces to discuss work on this. 

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