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Case study

“Think through the eyes of the child”: Durham constabulary


25 Sep 2015

Durham Constabulary has an established policy of taking positive action around domestic abuse incidents. It is recognised that when a victim of domestic abuse or violence calls the Police for help for the first time that it is typically the culmination of a series of many incidents, and that domestic abuse and violence can impact on the lives of children and shape their future.  Durham Constabulary have for a number of years now made fully use of body worn cameras (BWC) to capture early evidence which is regularly used to pursue prosecutions where a victim is unwilling or reluctant to support this.

A recent initiative extends the use of BWC to capture the experiences of children and how domestic abuse within a family is seen “Through the Eyes of the Child”. We are all aware of tragic instances where opportunities have been missed to intervene early in the lives of children at risk. This gives police officers the opportunity of getting a complete picture of how children are living in homes they attend. All frontline officers are trained in the use of BWC and details of this new approach has been cascaded during an extensive refresher/training programme delivered via Safeguarding teams. The message is clear:

  • ALWAYS turn on your Body Worn Camera when attending an incident of Domestic Abuse and continue to use this to obtain early evidence from Victims/Suspects which will be used as vital key evidence.
  • ALWAYS speak with children in the household regardless of whether they are present. Speak to Children and record what they say. Ask them how they are feeling and note any concerning behaviours. This is how domestic incidents are seen “Through the eyes of the Child”, and how children are affected by what is going on within the household
  • ALWAYS engage with children in the house even if they’re upstairs and record what they say. Ask them how they are feeling and note any concern. This information can be used by professionals to understand how life is for the children and how they are affected by domestic abuse.
  • ALWAYS check the bedrooms of children. Are they living in a safe and healthy environment? Use your BWC to record what you see. Take positive action where you have any concerns. This is an opportunity to intervene early. Don’t miss the opportunity to make a difference!
  • THINK-Would you be happy to leave your child there?

Footage from BWC is uploaded on to a server by the attending officer. It is there to view as part of how the police investigate and also safeguard vulnerable adults and children. This footage can be viewed by other agencies, like children social care and domestic abuse specialists, who work within Multi Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH). It can be used by them to shape their decision making. A picture is better than a thousand words.

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