Non-molestation pilot receives national award

North Yorkshire Police has been announced as a regional winner in the first National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing’s recognition event for police officers, staff and volunteers who are working to tackle violence against women and girls.

At an event held on September 6, the force won the recognition under the technology category for its ground-breaking Project Shield​ that brought together the police, His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service, Independent Domestic Abuse Service (IDAS), technology company, CGI, and Edge Hill University, to launch a Domestic Abuse Non-Molestation Order Pilot.

Non-Molestation Orders (NMO) are civil orders granted by the courts to protect victims of domestic abuse from further harm. Breach of a NMO is a criminal offence.

In March 2019 the Centre for Women’s Justice called for changes in the processes around enforcing protective orders to better support vulnerable victims. His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Fire and Rescue Service then called for better data collection and a requirement for research to identify a more robust system of nationwide information sharing which can be used to improve the safety of vulnerable people.

Project Shield developed a new approach to ensure vital information about the existence and conditions of victims’ non-molestation orders that had been granted by the courts, was easily accessible to safeguarding professionals and police officers.

The pilot utilised the Police National Database to share the information so that every police service in the country would know if a person they encountered was subject to a non-molestation order and what those conditions were.

The Court service also improved the information it collects to aid police identification of applicants and the perpetrators. They have also launched a pilot scheme to disclose non-molestation orders to the police before serving orders on the perpetrator.

The key benefits of the pilot were independently verified by Edge Hill University. The force’s Domestic Abuse Officers were able to identify potential risk to victims earlier, allowing more time for critical safeguarding measures to be put in place to prevent harm.

The pilot also delivered real improvements to the frontline, by making essential information about the conditions of an individual’s NMO accessible to police officers, meaning they could take quicker enforcement action when breaches of orders had taken place.

The solutions identified by the Project Shield team can be upscaled and rolled out nationally, so that all police forces and safeguarding agencies can experience the same benefits, and importantly, deliver a better level of service and safety to those who are most at risk of harm – the victims and survivors of abuse.

The scheme also helped to improve disclosures under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, meaning more victims could be informed about perpetrators who posed a threat to them.

Inspector Clare Crossan (pictured right, above), North Yorkshire Police’s lead for Domestic Abuse, attended the event. She said: “The pilot has not only achieved our objectives of improving protection and safety of domestic abuse victims and survivors, it has also hugely increased visibility of perpetrators and those subject to non-molestation orders. This can only help prevent further people from becoming victims of what is one of the most prolific forms of abuse that we encounter.

​“Direct feedback from victims who have been informed through the scheme has been extremely positive. Safety planning has been undertaken with the victims, provided them with reassurance and given them the confidence to report any future breaches.”