A SPECIALIST police squad has been set up in south Essex to tackle domestic abuse and bring violent partners before the courts.

Essex Police’s Domestic Abuse Crime Unit will run as a three-month pilot in the Basildon, Southend, Castle Point and Rochford areas.

Senior police officers say the priority is to gain crucial evidence from victims and witnesses, using bodyworn video footage or 999 recordings.

The new team follows criticism of the force that it failed to prevent the murders of a number of women in south Essex who had reported abuse and harassment from previous or current partners.

These include 47-year-old Jeanette Goodwin, who was murdered by ex-partner Martin Bunch, 44, on Quebec Avenue, Southend, on July 24, 2011.

Last week, it was revealed by the SouthendCommunity Safety Partnership that numerous failings by Essex Police in the lead up to her death.

Det Insp Caroline Venables, who is heading up the new 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.

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’.”