Women’s Aid responds to HMICFRS’s ‘The police response to domestic abuse’ report
Tuesday 26th February 2019
Today, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has published their latest report, ‘The police response to domestic abuse: An update report’. Read the full report online here. Women’s Aid responds to the report’s key findings.
Sian Hawkins, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs at Women’s Aid, said:
“Today’s Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) report shows that there is still work to be done to keep survivors and their children safe and hold perpetrators to account. Last year’s report showed that forces were struggling to cope with demand with some forces downgrading the severity of domestic abuse-related calls to justify a slower response time. There has been an 88% increase in recorded levels of domestic abuse between 2013 and 2017. Today’s report shows that the response time in domestic abuse cases continues to be worryingly slow. This is simply unacceptable. This dangerous practice only threatens to put more women and children’s lives at risk while perpetrators walk free.
“It takes a lot of strength for a survivor to build up the courage to report domestic abuse to the police. It is therefore vital that she gets an effective response the first time she calls out for help. Training and investment in some police force areas has helped to improve their response. We are pleased to see a 16% rise in the police issuing Domestic Violence Protection Orders to help protect survivors and their children. However, there continues to be a postcode lottery when it comes to arresting perpetrators of domestic abuse. This can leave survivors and their children at serious risk and reduce their confidence in reporting to the police.
“It is worrying to see the continuing trend of one third of domestic abuse cases being discontinued due to the victim not supporting the prosecution. We know from our work with survivors that the lasting impact of coercive control means that it is difficult to give evidence against your abuser in court. Police leaders must continue to invest in ongoing domestic abuse training, co-delivered by specialists like Women’s Aid, to ensure all staff, from call handlers through to frontline officers, can identify coercive control and support survivors every step of the way.
“Although body-worn cameras have helped officers gather the evidence needed to make an arrest and secure a prosecution, today’s report shows that this tool is not being used consistently. We want to see the police and the CPS working hand-in-hand to make sure that the necessary evidence is gathered, which does not rely solely on the victim’s testimony. Body-worn cameras have a crucial role to play in ensuring that there is enough evidence for a successful prosecution.
“The government published its draft domestic abuse along with its research into the social and economic cost of domestic abuse. That domestic abuse costs society £66 billion a year and on average the lives of two women a week should be a wakeup call for us all. We welcome the government’s commitment to make a breach of the new Domestic Abuse Protection Order a criminal offence – this will be a useful new tool for officers to hold perpetrators to account. However, it is clear that we also need investment in both the police and specialist domestic abuse services if we are to make sure that every survivor and her children can get the support they need to rebuild their lives free from abuse. By investing just a fraction of the money domestic abuse costs society every year into the police and specialist support services, we could truly transform the response to domestic abuse and work towards putting an end to domestic abuse once and for all.”
For information or support, you can contact the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.womensaid.org.uk.
For more information , please contact the Women’s Aid press office: 020 7566 2511 / [email protected]