A police officer whose mother was murdered by his stepfather is campaigning to provide his colleagues with specialized training to better protect victims of domestic violence and save lives.
North Wales Police have launched an innovative ‘culture change program’ to improve their understanding of abuse and coercive control.
The force will work with the Safe Lives charity over the next 18 months to deliver the Domestic Abuse Matters course, with police personnel also being trained.
This will give them a better idea of ââwhat is meant by the term coercive control, challenge the blame of the victim and make them recognize the high levels of manipulation by abusers.
The force’s work to tackle domestic violence is championed by Sergeant Mike Taggart – who was recently honored with an MBE for his work supporting victims of domestic violence.
Sgt Taggart’s crusade, who works with the Vulnerable Persons Protection Unit (PVPU), is driven by his tragic family history.
He was only 15 when his mother Donna Crist was murdered by his abusive stepfather Derek Evans in 1997.
Sgt Taggart explained that control and coercion ends before serious physical abuse, but is akin to extreme psychological and emotional abuse.
Since 2015, the offense is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of five years.
âOfficers are aware of coercive control, but now we want that knowledge to have more impact,â said Sgt Taggart.
âThe purpose of this training is to educate the officers and give them more tools for their kit really, to be able to go further.
“The more we can progress, the more thorough the investigation will be and hopefully this will help make victims safer and achieve better conviction rates in court.”
He added: âThere have been times when there have been missed opportunities and there is work that could have been done to change a result or improve it for someone.
âSo to see us as a police force to put in place something that will accommodate these things is huge. ”
News of the training program was welcomed by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin, a longtime advocate against domestic violence.
Mr. Dunbobbin said: âI have been the official ambassador of the White Ribbon Campaign to End Male Violence Against Women since 2013, so this cause is close to my heart.
âThe work done by the North Wales Police in general and Sergeant Taggart in particular in tackling the scourge of domestic violence is exemplary.
âThe roll-out of the Domestic Violence Course is another example of how the force is leading the way in this vitally important area of ââpolicing.
âI am sure that in the end this training will save lives and I cannot think of any better or more fitting tribute to the beloved mother of Sgt Taggart. ”
Previous initiatives orchestrated by Sgt Taggart included attending a tattoo convention and training salon staff to spot signs of abuse.
He also welcomed the tougher prison sentences for domestic violence offenses in recent years and called for a registry of serial stalkers to help monitor perpetrators.
According to Sergeant Taggart, if her mother had had the information available today, along with encouragement and support, she might have received “the impetus she might have needed” to ask for more help. early as a victim of domestic violence.
âI think in the ’90s domestic violence was probably seen as that – as something that happened in the home and was nobody else’s business,â added Sgt Taggart.
âBut it’s not just about what’s going on behind closed doors now, it’s about how we as police officers and spectators deal with it.
“We can all be eyes and ears and help a victim, who might be so scared that she would never show up, but sometimes you can have that little guardian angel somewhere who will make that call that will get things done in terms of Support.
âThere was nothing like it available when my mother was alive.
“Having this information in my day, readily available, and having this encouragement and support might well have given my mother the push she might have needed.”
Hoping the program will continue to save lives, Sgt Taggart added, âPeople will contact the police as their first port of call if they are in a crisis.
âSo for an officer to show up at his door and identify the problem goes beyond that incident, and it’s actually a role model, I think it will have a huge impact.
âIf we can identify these situations sooner, we can step in earlier and implement safeguards that will ultimately keep them safer and give them the confidence and encouragement to leave this relationship. ”
Training is currently being rolled out to all frontline agents and staff.