New risk assessment and technology improves response to family violence

Victoria Police is improving its response to family violence with the launch of a new Family Violence Report (FVR) – a risk assessment and management tool to keep victims safer and hold more perpetrators to account.

Today’s state-wide launch of the new FVR comes as Victoria Police completes its rollout of mobile technology to frontline police and protective services officers.

Police will now be able complete reports, including the new FVR, in the field as soon as possible after an incident, allowing them to make referrals immediately.

Developed in conjunction with Swinburne University and Forensicare, the tool will provide frontline officers an evidence-based way to assess risk.

Completion of the FVR generates a score that predicts the likelihood of future family violence and severe family violence, and will help determine who should manage the investigation.

Family Violence Command Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter said family violence and violence against women was core police work, accounting for approximately 40 to 60 per cent of frontline police time.

“In the past 12 months to March this year, police responded to more than 81,000 incidents of family violence,” AC McWhirter said.

“These incidents can be complex and police are often required to make assessments in stressful circumstances to keep people safe.

“The FVR gives police more guidance and confidence to make improved decisions based on the information they collect, combined with enhanced training and professional judgement.

“Police officers will also be better equipped to understand the intricacies of relationships to determine the risk level. It also allows police to collect consistent information to better track repeat offenders and those who breach intervention orders.

“The highest risk cases will be triaged to the specialist Family Violence Investigation Units, responsible for investigating and managing Victoria’s most serious family violence.

“To make sure it works effectively, the FVR was piloted over two years in two divisions, including Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Wyndham, Brimbank and Melton.

“We’ve already received feedback from a range of sector staff and police officers who have been using the new report about the positive impact for victims and on their own work.

“Combined with specialist responses, it led to a significant reduction in severe harm from family violence in the two-year pilot.

“The combined effectiveness of the research evidence, the evaluation of the two-year pilot, our education program and the commitment of staff is highlighted by these comments.”

The recently completed rollout of the mobile device (iPads and iPhones with a purpose-built application) means Victoria Police has more than 9000 devices out in the field, allowing police officers to submit crime and event reports in the field, conduct checks on a person, licences, vehicles and locations.

Interactive maps also allow officers to have better visibility of incidents occurring around them.

Crime and event reports that can now be submitted through the mobile devices are:

o Family Violence Report

o Assault

o Justice procedures

o Harassment

o Property damage.

Remaining reports for other crimes and events will be available in September.

AC McWhirter said it was no secret that a large part of police work involves completing paperwork.

“The state-wide roll out of these devices means that police officers can now be spending more time providing valuable support to victims,” he said.

“Victoria Police is confident the state-wide roll out of this new technology and the Family Violence Report will help improve community safety.”

/Public Release. View in full here.