Sussex Police officer recognised for work to support domestic abuse victims during pandemic

A police officer has been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for his outstanding contribution to policing in the county.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 8:46 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 8:48 am
Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Rayland

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Rayland has been awarded the Queen's Policing Medal (QPM).

Steve is the force lead for public protection including domestic abuse.

During the Covid pandemic he reviewed and restructured the force's response to incidents of domestic abuse and recognised that victims could find themselves in confined home situations which could hamper their ability to report incidents of abusive behaviour and seek assistance from police and other services.

He launched a team of trained officers to respond to victims in a timely, remote and discreet way.

Exploring technology options outside policing, he learned from industry experts what was available to enable us to reach out to vulnerable victims and ensure their safety, as they took the first steps to report crimes to police.

This technology enables victims to enter a secure webchat room where they can speak safely to an officer and explain their circumstances.

An assessment can then be made about the level of threat posed and support them to take the next steps.

In addition to this process for non-emergency incidents, he worked with colleagues across the force to ensure that there were fast time response resources, 24 hours a day, who were specifically tasked with attending incidents of domestic abuse.

The Sussex initiatives were taken to a national domestic abuse forum, and were shared and adopted elsewhere.

With the support of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner he has also worked with the Home Office to explore issues around domestic abuse more comprehensively.

Steve Rayland said: "I am delighted and humbled to have been nominated for this award.

"Policing is all about a team effort and it is a privilege to work with really committed police officers and staff who are passionate about protecting vulnerable people.

"The pandemic created significant challenges for policing domestic abuse and changing our response to ensure that we could support those in need was vital.

"I am proud of what Sussex Police is achieving in supporting and protecting victims, and investigating domestic abuse."

He was one of two Sussex Police officers to be recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, along with Inspector Chris Varrall.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: "On behalf of everyone in Sussex Police I extend our congratulations to both Steve and Chris.

"Combating domestic abuse, modern slavery and the vulnerability of young people are priorities for the force, and we are delighted that the innovative and committed approach of our two colleagues to developing new ways of protecting the public, has been so publicly and nationally recognised.

"This recognition is also a tribute to the teamwork and enthusiasm of equally dedicated officers and staff working with them across the force."

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: "I’m proud that two Sussex Police officers have been recognised in the Queen’s Honours List for their innovative contributions to ensuring the safety of some of our most vulnerable.

“Steve has spearheaded the force’s response to domestic abuse during the pandemic, which has been nationally commended and has helped so many who may otherwise have slipped through the protective net.

“I want to thank them both for their outstanding service and congratulate them on this well-deserved recognition.”