One year on, Herts crimefighters take stock of domestic abuse drive and explain why surge in reporting means success

The Herts police drive to raise awareness of domestic abuse is one year old

The Herts police drive to raise awareness of domestic abuse is one year old - Credit: Archant

Today marks the first anniversary of the launch of Operation Oak, the Herts police campaign to tackle domestic abuse and raise awareness of the issue.

The sustained focus on the problem has seen an increase in offences being reported of more than 40 per cent – every day the force handles between 40 and 50 cases.

And the high profile media campaign has helped to spread the word that abuse does not have to be about violence - coercive control, financial, mental and emotional abuse can also play their part.

Officers and staff have been receiving extra training to identify the different forms domestic abuse takes, and also taken part in a national training pilot scheme to help them identify tell-tale signs that there is a problem.

The force has also seen an increase in requests for information under the ‘right to know’ and ‘right to ask’ disclosure scheme, known as Clare’s Law.

New legislation, including domestic abuse prevention notices (DVPNs) and domestic abuse prevention orders (DVPOs), has given police more authority to safeguard victims of domestic abuse and remove offenders from the home address.

Det Chief Supt Mick Ball, the lead officer for Herts on safeguarding issues, said: “I think we can be proud of what we have achieved with our partner agencies over the past 12 months in terms of raising awareness of domestic abuse.

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“We have seen an increase in overall reporting, which we welcome. However, we must not be complacent, there is always scope for further improvement and we will continue to work with our partner agencies, charities and victims to stop domestic abuse.”

The county’s police and crime commissioner David Lloyd said: “All those involved in trying to tackle the scourge on our society that is domestic abuse can be proud of what they have achieved since the launch of Operation Oak 12 months ago.

“Last year I funded a root and branch review of the county’s domestic abuse services by a specialist charity and their recommendations are now part of the action plan I am overseeing.

“I have also invested in more independent advisors and my team is exploring ways to increase emotional support and practical help we can offer victims and their children.

“It is reassuring to note that the new legislation such as Clare’s Law – the right to know and the right to ask – as well as the introduction of protection orders and notices are being used to help safeguard some of our most vulnerable people.

“I commend the work that has been done and which will continue.

“We all play a role in identifying, reporting and acting on this crime which happens behind closed doors and destroys the lives of families.”

If you are suffering from domestic abuse, please call the Sunflower Centre on 08 088 088 088 – it is open from 10am to 10pm Monday to Friday. You can also find out more at