A NEW crime unit has been set up in the south of the county to test a new approach dealing with domestic abuse.

Essex Police has begun a three month pilot of its The Domestic Abuse Crime Unit in the Basildon, Southend and Castle Point and Rochford areas.

Its aim is to make domestic abuse perpetrators accountable for their actions and bring them swiftly before the courts.

Det Insp Caroline Venables, who is heading up the unit, said: "The team aims to provide a much earlier specialist intervention in domestic abuse investigations after the initial response by uniform officers.

"It means we will have a key number of officers who will deal with the perpetrator from the point they have been arrested, and brought into custody, through to their disposal.

"They will be dedicated to supporting victims through prosecutions but also seeking prosecutions when victims are unable to provide evidence.

"The objective in each case is to gain the evidence to support a charge, whether that be from the victim themselves, witnesses, officer body worn video footage or 999 recordings.

"Recent deployments of body worn video cameras have already led to perpetrators being charged with assault, without the involvement of the victim.

"All the officers working in the unit are trained investigators, with many having worked within the area of domestic abuse before. This means we have a set of officers who all have a good understanding of the complexities and nature of domestic abuse cases.

"The unit will also deal with all domestic abuse, whatever the level of risk to the victim, so that the same standards of investigation will be applied in all cases.

"Initial results are extremely positive and we have already seen a number of violent offenders remanded in custody, strict bail conditions imposed on others and referrals to the Youth Offending Team.”

The unit includes both detective and police constables and is split between Basildon and Southend so it can cater for prisoners arrested throughout the South LPA.

Det Insp Venables added: "Our message to perpetrators of domestic abuse is this ‘If you abuse your loved ones, we will do all we can to stop you and take control away from you’.”