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Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) inspected how the Royal Navy Police (RNP), the Royal Military Police (RMP) and the Royal Air Force Police (RAFP) deal with RASSO and domestic abuse.
All RASSO cases in the service police forces are dealt with by a specialist investigation branch, as well as some domestic abuse cases. The inspections found that these investigations were all done to a comparable or higher standard than most civilian police forces – in part, because investigators had a lower caseload – and recommended that the specialist investigation branch took on all domestic abuse cases.
However, victims across all three forces told inspectors they did not feel properly supported, with many feeling ostracised from their units or suffering abuse on social media. Opportunities to make early arrests were sometimes missed, resulting in unnecessary delays. There was also little governance in place for the Ministry of Defence to hold the forces to account when it came to performance. Training was inconsistent and not overseen thoroughly.
- RNP: Inspectors identified 13 areas for improvement and made a total of 30 recommendations, including ensuring adequate RASSO and domestic abuse support on board submarines and other vessels. Currently on board most submarines there are no RASSO-trained staff and if such offences occurred, police would have to wait until the mission was complete before beginning investigations.
- RMP: Inspectors identified 19 areas for improvement and made a total of 32 recommendations, including ensuring accredited forensic medical examiners are available in all major overseas locations. This is not currently always the case and can lead to vital corroborative evidence being missed.
- RAFP: Inspectors identified 21 areas for improvement and made a total of 30 recommendations, including prioritising the introduction of body-worn video and monitoring its use when attending domestic abuse and RASSO incidents.
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, Matt Parr, said:
“Rape, serious sexual offences and domestic abuse are terrible crimes, and it is imperative victims are properly safeguarded and supported. While we found evidence of good quality investigations across the service police forces, and good intentions when it came to training, there is far more that needs to be done to keep victims safe.
“Current IT systems across all three forces are not fit for purpose when it comes to recording and analysing data on domestic abuse, making it virtually impossible for the Ministry of Defence to see the scale of the problem.
“Safeguarding of victims needs to be urgently improved. Too many victims told us they felt unsupported. Police forces are required to inform the military of any incidents in which either the suspect or victim is a member of the military, and we aren’t convinced that is always happening.
“We have identified many areas for improvement and will closely monitor the progress of the forces.”
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- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) was asked by the Secretary of State for Defence to inspect how the Royal Navy Police (RNP), the Royal Military Police (RMP) and the Royal Air Force Police (RAFP) deal with rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) and domestic abuse, particularly around prevention, investigation and support and safeguarding of victims.
- For further information, the HMICFRS Press Office can be contacted on 07836217729 or at HMICPressOffice@hmicfrs.gov.uk (e-mail address).