THE quality of domestic abuse investigation was one of the key criticisms included in a damning inspection of Cleveland Police.

In the 18-months since the force was severely criticised for its work in tackling the problem the chief constable believes it has now made major inroads in protecting some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams praised the work so far but says the force still needs to improve how it records violent crime, particularly those crimes that relate to domestic abuse.

And with the number of domestic violence cases across the country spiralling upwards during the ongoing Covid pandemic the force has been facing a difficult task.

Chief Constable Richard Lewis said the force's arrest rates had improved significantly in the last 18 months. He said: "The work we have done in terms of domestic violence protection notices is significantly up from where it was.

"The focus has paid off but with any HMICFSR report for any force they will point out where you need to make further progress – our job is to refocus on those areas and that is what we will do."

Speaking about the impact lockdowns have had on domestic violence figures, he added: "We have tried to use as any indirect techniques to speak directly with victims as we can to reach out to communities."