When you contact the police and tell them you are suffering domestic abuse, the first thing they will need to do is ensure you are safe.
If it appears you may not be safe, you will be given some advice immediately to try and help you get safe. If there is something going on when you contact the police and they can hear it, it will be recorded and saved as it may prove useful in the future.
Once the police have taken some basic details from you, they will discuss with you the best way they can help. This may involve sending an officer or a member of police staff to your location straight away to deal with an emergency.
If the situation is not an emergency, other options, such as arranging a suitable appointment for you to see an officer or other member of staff, putting you in contact with one of the police’s safeguarding partners, or taking some more details from you over the phone, will be discussed with you.
If you meet with an officer or a member of police staff, or if you are dealt with over the phone, you will be asked a series of questions designed to give them a comprehensive understanding of your situation and how best they can help.
This process is called a ‘risk assessment’ and is used to identify the nature of any risks you may be facing, as everyone’s experience is likely to be different.
The police will always seek to take the most positive and robust action they can to help improve your circumstances, and they have a duty to tell you what is happening at every stage.
The action they take may include investigating criminal offences and you might be asked whether you are willing to provide a written statement or other evidence.
The police appreciate not everyone will be comfortable or willing to co-operate in this fashion, so they will always look for other sources of evidence and information as well, such as footage captured by their body-worn video cameras.
If you are deemed to be at high risk of harm, you will be contacted by one of the police’s Domestic Abuse Risk Officers (DAROs) and an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA), who will work with you to develop a safeguarding plan designed to keep you as safe as possible.
They will also ask your permission to refer your details on to the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC), which brings together a number of safeguarding partner agencies to share information and develop a comprehensive strategy to assist you in staying safe.
The police may share some information about your situation with other agencies, but they recognise you may be reluctant or concerned by this, so you will given advice regarding your options.
In some circumstances, the police can share information without your permission, but they only do so if they feel they must to help protect someone from serious harm.
If you are not deemed to be at high risk of harm, there will be other measures the police can discuss with you to try and help.