Detective constables share their experiences in helping domestic abuse victims

27 November 2015

New Scotland Yard

Domestic abuse detectives share their experiences and passion for the job following this week's White Ribbon day.

Detectives Denisa Andronic and Jon Godfrey share a common goal - protecting the public and making a real difference to the lives of domestic abuse victims. Both are based at Hillingdon Community Safety Unit which has overseen approximately 847 domestic related investigations in the last 12 months - all of which have resulted in physical injury.

"If they have been assaulted by a person who they love, their world is understandably falling apart"

Denisa Said, "It's my job to look at the ins and outs of a case and to fully research the circumstances, the history and motive. From the word go, I make sure I gain full trust from victims and ensure I provide them with extra TLC which is so vital when they are vulnerable and emotional. If they have been assaulted by a person who they love, their world is understandably falling apart, and this is something which we, as police officers must never forget. I believe that providing strong initial support to victims of domestic abuse is paramount to the outcome of the investigation and will prove fruitful at court."

Recently Denisa has recently worked on an investigation which began as a missing persons enquiry and then rapidly developed into a case of honour based violence.

Denisa explains: "There was an early indication that the woman in this case was at risk of harm and we knew this from concerns raised by those who were close to her. Our detailed yet sensitive enquiry established that she was in line for an honour based forced marriage in the Middle East. Despite the fact that she had left the UK, we immediately used this information to secure a Forced Marriage Protection Order with the assistance of our partner agencies. This ultimately provided her with complete safety and confidence return to the UK. She has since been provided with continual support in moving forward with her life and has made the new start which she deserves."

Denisa continues: "Sometimes the range and complexity of a case can be a hurdle, but for me the main challenge comes when I'm making every effort keep victim's safe, even when they invite the perpetrator back into their life. It can be a real struggle to make them realise how much they are putting themselves at risk by remaining in a potentially violent relationship. In many cases relationships involve very young children who witness violence and these acts will inevitable leave them traumatised for life. We always seek opportunities remind communities about the devastation which domestic abuse can leave in a home environment and we continually working together with Social Services to identify those at risk to protect families and young people."

Earlier this year Jon Godfrey oversaw an investigation which led to a man being jailed for three years in a domestic incident during which a man was violently assaulted in front of his wife, who was eight month pregnant at the time.

Jon said: "On occasions we do encounter challenges especially when witnesses do not want to provide evidence at court. Perhaps it's seen as protecting their loved ones, or their family respect, but the sad fact is that this silence can sadly instigate further emotional and physical damage. In the recent case I worked on, a man was violently assaulted with a metal pole, causing head injuries. Despite minimal evidence from witnesses and victims at court, we were able to secure a three year jail term for the offender. This demonstrates that domestic abuse violence to this degree even without victim or witness participation cannot be ignored by the courts."

Both Jon and Denisa both recognise the importance in reaching out to the community in educating and presenting the facts surrounding domestic abuse and what support is available.

Jon continues: "The Police and partnership agencies take all forms of Domestic Abuse extremely seriously. The safety victims is always paramount and we have a number of processes in place to ensure that we provide the very best service and support to those who come to our attention. We work in partnership with IDVA service (Independent Domestic Violence Advocate) who offer on going support and advice to victims of Domestic Abuse. Victims are always offered this service to ensure that the right safety measures are put in place, and to help them move on in life with confidence in themselves and everything they do."

In a direct message to anybody who has been affected by the devastating effect of domestic abuse, and has not yet had the courage to come forward to inform the police, Denisa said:

"As hard as it may be sometimes living in an abusive environment where little support is found outside, think of how your life could be as a happy and free person. Nobody deserves to answer to a controlling and violent partner. We have overseen a number of successful prosecutions relating to victims that had suffered years and years of abuse at the hands of their partners but the circumstances made it difficult for them to report it. There is a great deal of support and safeguarding that is available, you simply must say STOP! From today no more! Pick up that phone or walk into a Police Station and do it - but if you can't do that first step, confide in someone, be it your GP or best friend. Report it online and we will do a follow up appointment where plain clothes officers can see you somewhere in confidence."

To talk to a member of the Community Safety Unit about an issue which is affecting you, please contact 020 8246 1570 or 020 8246 1498.