Women’s Aid responds to joint report by HMCPSI and HMICFRS on evidence-led domestic abuse prosecutions

23rd January 2020

Responding to the report findings, Adina Claire, Acting co-CEO of Women’s Aid, said:

“More than half of domestic abuse cases failed to proceed last year due to evidential problems and the victim not supporting police action, so this report is important and welcome.

The criminal justice system can be a terrifying place for survivors of domestic abuse, who can often be at greater risk from their perpetrator once the police are involved. So it’s vital that police forces and the CPS build the best possible case for every survivor, and don’t rely on her to present in court. This includes co-operating with local specialist domestic abuse services, whose expertise is vital in ensuring that survivors are safe and supported to proceed with a criminal case against the perpetrator.

It’s concerning that this report found that officers and prosecutors have no system to identify which cases can led by evidence and not a victim, and therefore no opportunity to learn lessons and share good practice. The report also found that uptake of training on domestic abuse is variable, even in instances where it is mandatory (e.g. for Area prosecutors); police officers do not always properly risk assess victims and their families, and sometimes fail to pass this information to the CPS; and prosecutors could do more to enable cases to proceed on an evidence-led basis.

It’s essential that the police and CPS are equipped with the tools they need to deliver evidence-led investigations. Proper use of 999 tapes, witness statements and photographs at the scene, effective use of body-worn police cameras and digital evidence (e.g. mobile phone records) can remove the reliance on survivor testimony. Women’s Aid delivers the College of Policing Domestic Abuse Matters programme to police force areas, which equips front-line officers and police staff with a better understanding of domestic abuse. It sharpens their skills to identify the subtleties of coercive control for evidence gathering and successful prosecution.”

If you are worried that your partner, or that of a friend or family member, is controlling and abusive, you can go to www.womensaid.org.uk for support and information, including Live Chat, the Survivors’ Forum, The Survivor’s Handbook and the Domestic Abuse Directory.

For more information, please contact the Women’s Aid press office: 020 7566 2511 / [email protected]

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Women’s Aid is a registered charity in England No. 1054154

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