Thames Valley’s new Chief Constable has revealed how personal tragedy will fuel his drive to prioritise the fight against domestic abuse.
Jason Hogg, who currently serves as Deputy Chief Constable, is set to step up to the top job when incumbent John Campbell retires at the end of March 2023, having had his selection as Thames Valley’s new Chief Constable approved by the Thames Valley Police & Crime Panel – the group of councillors that monitors the work of Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) Matthew Barber – last week.
Among the questions faced – during what amounted to Deputy Chief Constable Hogg’s interview by councillors – was his proposed approach to tackling allegations of “victim blaming” by the police force in relation to violence against women and girls.
He acknowledged legacy issues, including “pushback… from the rank and file” on targeted strategies, but said that arrest rates for domestic abuse had increased.
“Approximately three years ago, we had an inspection by HMIC (His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary), which mentioned the force needed to improve its approach to domestic abuse,” said Deputy Chief Constable Hogg.
“It was never in the report, but the inspectors told us informally that they identified what they described as domestic abuse fatigue.
“Domestic incidents are number one for what officers attend, and sadly, they attend some cases multiple times because some vulnerable people are in those difficult relationships.
“Since then, we have made domestic abuse a core priority in terms of our performance, and we have three core measures which we have progressed over time.
“The first is to make sure we get there quickly, the second is to be proactive in making arrests, and I set a very high-level target for the number of arrests expected, plus a focus on outcomes for victims of crime.
“It is fair to say I got some pushback on that from the rank and file by taking away their discretion, but the reality was at the time that you were less likely to be arrested for a domestic abuse crime in Thames Valley than you were in the seven police forces around us, which was simply not good enough.
“Our arrest rate has increased to one of the highest in the country, and that rollout wasn’t just about the figures; it was about the hearts and minds approach that was really important as well.
“I personally introduced a training video by an organisation called Safe Lives about the impact domestic abuse has. The reason I did that; I mentioned that I lost my mum when I was a child. She was a victim of domestic abuse, and she was murdered when I was a child.
“It is not something I talk about often, but it is something I feel passionately about, and as chief constable, domestic abuse will certainly be at the forefront of everything I do because it is clearly the biggest group of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, those in domestic abuse relationships.”
The question had come from Councillor Maria Gee (Lib Dem, Wokingham Borough Council), who welcomed the efforts but asked for more detail on action to tackle “low-level, casualised misogyny on the streets” that she argued led to “fewer women go(ing) out”.
Deputy Chief Constable Hogg highlighted the need to make “domestic abuse and violence against women and girls unacceptable in our society” but added that the “societal problem” could not be eradicated by the police alone.
He said repeat perpetrators of domestic abuse would be targeted and that there would be an “expectation” for local commanders to “prioritise their patrol activity” in areas flagged up via StreetSafe, a mobile phone app which allows people to report locations where they feel unsafe while out.
Jason started his career in Cleveland Police in 1995 before transferring to Hampshire in 2001 as a Detective Sergeant. He spent most of his career in Criminal Investigation roles, serving as a Detective in every rank.
He has spent a significant part of his career investigating homicide offences and, for several years, helped deliver training on the National Senior Investigation Officer (SIO) Development Programme. In addition he has worked in Special Branch and been Head of Public Protection.
He joined Thames Valley Police in January 2016 as Assistant Chief Constable (Crime and Criminal Justice) before becoming the Chief Officer lead for the South East Counter Terrorism Unit & Regional Organised Crime Unit. He was promoted to Deputy Chief Constable in 2019.