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Reflections of a CPRL Senior Practitioner Fellow

Rebecca Collard

Rebecca Collard recently completed a 3-month secondment as a Senior Practitioner Fellow from Avon and Somerset Police to work on the Victim Disengagement by Domestic Abuse and Rape Victims project led by Dr Lis Bates. 

Here Rebecca reflects on her time at CPRL....

"I was recently fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in a CPRL project on Victim (dis)engagement from November 2021 to March 2022, led by Dr. Lis Bates. This was as part of a four-month Senior Practitioner Fellow secondment post from my role as a Victim and Witness Officer (VWCO) in the Lighthouse Safeguarding Unit, Avon and Somerset Police (A&S). This was a fantastic professional development opportunity to contribute to a research-led understanding of victim (dis)engagement through working with the project’s team of experienced academics. From my first Teams meeting with the team, I felt both enormously welcomed by the researchers, and hugely motivated by the project’s aims: primarily, to illuminate the reasons for victim attrition in reported Domestic Violence (DV) and Rape and Serious Sexual Assault (RASSO) cases. Similarly, I was encouraged to fully join in Centre activities by very friendly colleagues, with open invitations to informal and weekly meetings, ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions, and perhaps most fun, a Christmas online quiz afternoon, complete with catered mince pies, tea and fruit cake!

My work on the project both drew on and expanded my working knowledge of Force reporting systems, through close data analysis of a hundred A&S DV and RASSO cases. The project team were generous in their support and sharing of their knowledge, facilitating a shared interpretation of the data findings from combined analysis of incident reports, victim/survivor interviews and police officer forums through weekly team meetings. Comparable emerging findings across partner Forces’ datasets indicated key points at which victim attrition occurs, allowing for insightful discussions around potential recommendations related to applied victim contact, care and support practice. Although primarily data-led, my victim care role further informed my contributions to these discussions. Equally, post-secondment, the data analysis has positively impacted my professional practice on a daily basis, and in doing so, has provided both an affirmation of my hope that the secondment would result in evidenced, applied understanding of best practice, and demonstrated the wider value of the research. This was further reinforced by Force partner participants’ feedback at the first project dissemination event in April, in which the project’s emerging findings were presented and discussed. I am very much looking forward to participating in the next project dissemination event in June, and will also continue to share the emerging findings with A&S colleagues through supplementary voluntary roles I hold within the Force, including as a member of the Force-wide Domestic Violence Influencers’ Working Group, for which I’ll be contributing to an up-coming Domestic Abuse Insight Day." Rebecca Collard

For further information on the Senior Practitioner Fellowship Scheme run by the CPRL, please contact oupc@open.ac.uk

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