Thousands of domestic violence victims could be at risk of further abuse because police are unaware of non-molestation orders (NMOs) against their attackers.
The onus is on survivors having to register the order, made by a civil court on paper, at a police station, something which many victims find intimidating, according to a report by Crest Advisory consultancy and computer company CGI, which created the police database.
“Not only is the lack of a digital record frustrating for victims, it potentially puts them at unnecessary risk of harm,” they wrote. “In most cases, a local police force will have no knowledge of the NMOs that have been issued across their police force area.”
As NMO details are not on a database nor shared with other forces, a survivor who moves, something common among victims, would not be flagged as vulnerable in their new area, The Independent newspaper reported.
A National Centre for Domestic Violence phone app is used by some police forces, but it holds a fraction of the records and was used last year to download just 2,000 orders, the newspaper reported. More than 25,000 NMOs were made last year.
According to digital world journal Diginomica, CGI is proposing the police national database be extended to automatically accept, manage and store details of all NMOs issued.
Mark Groves CEO of The National Centre for Domestic Violence said “In 2010 we recognised this was a major problem for victims, we spoke to may police forces but nothing was done so we decided to do it ourselves. In 2011 we launched the ASSIST web site that stores thousands of Non Molestation orders and is available only for the police to download a copy. We are currently uploading around 1000 orders to the system every month”
Although the ASSIST database does not hold copies of all the orders granted it is the only national resource that stores any. Mr Groves went on to say “CGI approached us 18 months ago recognising that we had developed the only national database and together we have formed a ‘Joining the Dots’ campaign to finally complete the integration of ASSIST and the PND. Unfortunately this integration will take resource and money so I am not sure how long it will take.”
The National Centre for Domestic Violence do not charge to upload orders to the ASSIST system and they do not charge the police for access. Mr Groves said “Any solicitor, court or individual is welcome to send us the order for upload and quite frankly why wouldn’t you”