The Duchess of Cornwall praises technology used to help domestic abuse victims
The Duchess of Cornwall was visiting the Metropolitan Police Service Base in Lambeth.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has described domestic abuse as a “pernicious problem” as the Duchess of Cornwall was shown innovative technology keeping victims safe.
Camilla was given a demonstration of a secret device during a visit to Met Police offices in Lambeth, south London, which uses the latest global tracking and location capabilities to help police locate the person in distress and provide a rapid response.
The Met Commissioner, who joined Camilla for her visit, said domestic abuse was something her force took seriously and that they were getting “better and better” at dealing with it.
Sat at a desk with communications supervisor Steve Vaughan, Camilla watched as he responded to the fictitious alert which brought up a woman’s location and showed the criminal record of her partner and his car details.
The duchess said to the Met Commissioner: “Just seeing it is believing – very impressive.”
Since it was launched in the UK in 2011, TecSOS has been adopted by 40 out of 43 UK police forces and has given more 13,000 high-risk domestic abuse victims added security and been activated almost 1,900 times.
Camilla toured the centre where 999 and 101 non-emergency calls from across the capital are taken by staff and chatted to some of those working.
There was a lighter moment when Camilla met staff manning a fundraising tuck shop that donates proceeds to a different charity each month.
Turning to her private secretary who produced Camilla’s purse she gave £10 for two chocolate bars.
At the end of the visit the Met Commissioner gave a short speech: “It means an enormous amount to us that you’re taking such a keen interest in the issues of domestic violence, which of course remains a really pernicious problem in our society and in London and something we in the Met take incredibly seriously.
“And I think there are lots of signs we are getting better and better and better at dealing – from a police point of view – but there is so much more to do, and the fact you’re so interested in this subject and have met colleagues working with the new way of protecting people is really appreciated.”
In response, the Duchess praised the work of staff who take emergency calls from those in need: “I’m thrilled to have come today, I’ve learnt a lot.
“Till you come and see things, like the 999 calls, I don’t think me, as an ordinary member of the public, understand quite what goes on behind the scenes.
“I see how much work and how much time goes into it all, and the pressure, the pressure all of you must feel – I’m astounded by all the work you do and I can only congratulate you all, you do us all a tremendous service, I don’t know what we’d do without you.”
Earlier Camilla visited a centre in Camberwell, south London, where young victims of sexual abuse are offered a range of support including forensic medical examinations, follow-up sexual healthcare and access to child psychology and advocacy services.
It is one of three specialist units – known as Havens –across London, run by King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, caring for victims of sexual assault but is the only one to have a section dedicated to children and young people.
The Duchess was giving a guided tour of the department by consultant paediatrician Dr Andrea Goddard and was shown the room where examinations are carried out and was told about a pioneering interview technique.
Last week for the first time an interview with a child abuse victim was carried out by a child psychologist instead of a police officer, who oversaw the gathering of evidence watching from a control room.
Detective Constable Janine Stevenson, from the Met Police’s child abuse and sexual offences command who works with the Haven, said: “Psychologists are better at dealing with symptoms of trauma and the effect that it has on the brain. The child can sometimes become re-traumatised whilst talking about their experiences so they’re better placed to conduct the interview.”
Before leaving Camilla, who for a number of years has been supporting the work of the police and other professions who deal with sexual assault, praised the work of staff: “I think the thing is about rape and sexual abuse, people don’t really want to address it, nobody knows about the wonderful work people do behind the scenes. That’s why you should all be applauded for all you do. You don’t get enough acclaim. “