Staffordshire Police employee scoops national award

DCI Jav Oomer and Helen Bruce, Staffordshire PoliceThe work of a Staffordshire Police employee to reduce repeat offending with regards domestic abuse has been recognised at a national event.Helen Bruce, strategic domestic abuse co-ordinator and MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference) Chair within the force’s Public Protection Safeguarding department, has been hailed a DA Champion for her work around the Out of Court Disposals pilot with regards to domestic abuse.

She was presented with the Partnerships in DA IOM (domestic abuse integrated offender management) (sponsored by TecSOS – the Vodafone Foundation) award at today’s DA Champions National Awards Event in London.

Organised by the College of Policing, and working in partnership with a number of other organisations, the event recognises the work of those committed to helping people in domestic abuse situations.

Helen’s work (see below nomination for full details) has already received national praise.

She said: “Victims of domestic abuse don’t always want criminal sanctions taken against their partners. They don’t want to see the father or the mother of their children in court or in the local media as they very often want the relationship to continue but the abuse to stop.

“Proactive and relevant intervention that is tailored towards the individual offender’s own personal circumstances at the very early stage of what is often an escalating cycle of abuse and which stops that abuse from continuing, is proving to have a positive impact on the lives of victims and any children witnessing the abusive behaviour.

“This is something that victims of domestic abuse have been hoping could be achieved for many years and will hopefully encourage more victims to come forward at an early stage to report the abuse.

“Suitable conditional cautions support the offenders in addressing their behaviours to ensure, whatever the outcome of their relationship with the victim, that they don’t go on to reoffend with new partners as is often the case with domestic abuse.

“Working closely with partner agencies to ensure the conditions set are suitable and are being complied with is also benefiting partnership working and is forging strong relationships with them and the police service.”

Helen was nominated for her award by Det Ch Insp Jav Oomer.

He said: “The out of court disposals pilot is another innovative approach to tackling the causes of DA, the work highlights the importance of working with perpetrators as well as victims to break the cycle of offending.

“National research has shown the first report to the Police is not usually the first occasion of DA and by getting this right first time following a report has a positive impact on both victims and perpetrators.

“The work Helen has done is instrumental in ensuring that perpetrators are supported to change their behaviour.”

I wish to nominate Helen Bruce for her work around the Out of Court Disposals (OoCD) pilot with regards Domestic Abuse.

Staffordshire were chosen by the MOJ as being one of three pilot forces around out of court disposals and an element of that was to introduce low level crimes of Domestic Abuse into the Pilot and assess the impact of early intervention.
To consider the use of out of court disposals for domestic related matters is in itself is a nationally contentious issue however Helen was instrumental in setting up the Staffordshire pilot working in conjunction with the MOJ and DA national lead staff officer to develop a policy that was robust and could stand scrutiny yet achieve the aims and principles of out of court disposals scheme around DA.
In November 2014 Staffs went live with the OoCD pilot. The other pilot forces used Staffordshire as a model force for their pilot around DA and Helen has developed the domestic element of the pilot into a working model that has been seen and highlighted as best practice.
The DA OoCD has received national praise and described as “Innovative” by HMIC and recognised by the MOJ in workshops and master classes. Helen has been asked to support the other pilot forces and spoken in a multi force arena around the use of OoCD for DA matters.

The pilot in Staffordshire has seen so far over 345 people dealt with by way of an OoCD for DA working with the victims needs but also recognising that each perpetrator is different and identifying the appropriate measures for perpetrators to ensure engagement in the sanctions set by the OoCD pilot and ensuring a successful resolution. The early results show a significant amount of success in this approach where (at the time of writing) none of the 345 people have reoffended.

Due to the nature of the pilot and significant risk associated around DA, the pilot requires an expert lead in making decisions that could have a significant impact on the lives of others and Helen has taken this role on personally ensuring that risk assessments have been completed, the OoCD process has been followed and that the OoCD is the most appropriate option in each and every case. She has also made suggestions on conditions that are appropriate to the actions and in line with changing culture and addressing offender behaviour.

This work has been taken on by Helen in addition to her everyday role and has added a significant amount of work to her already busy workload.

As the pilot ends in November 2015 and a formal evaluation will take place Helen is now looking to share her expertise and bring in others to assist in assessing risk and working with partners to deliver a bespoke OoCD programme for perpetrators.

For the hard work and dedication shown by Helen in making sure the OoCD pilot around DA is a success and keeping communities safe in Staffordshire I would put Helen forward for formal recognition.

Author: sp16394

Press Officer at Staffordshire Police