The Association of Chief Police Officers has responded to this week’s HMIC report criticising Service response to incidents of domestic violence.
The report, which followed an inspection of all 43 forces in England and Wales, outlines a number of failings, particularly in relation to initial investigations by responding officers at the scene. The report also identifies a lack of ‘knowledge and skills’ on the part of officers, as well as evidence of ‘poor attitudes’.
ACPO domestic abuse lead ACC Louisa Rolfe said: “During its review, HMIC found the majority of victims were satisfied and said that our response to the most complex high-risk cases was increasingly sophisticated. It also identified that the awareness and response of all frontline officers to those lower-risk, everyday cases must improve as well.”
She continued: “Our challenge is not an easy one. We grapple with a staggering level of acceptance of domestic abuse in our communities and a genuine reluctance from victims to come forward in the face of a very traditional justice system that doesn’t recognise the very personal impact on those who do [come forward].
“Police need to get the basics right - the first response to victims of abuse, the investigation and the subsequent action to protect victims – but we cannot tackle domestic abuse alone. There are many dedicated officers working hard every day to make victims safer, and secure justice for them. But we can and must get better still.”
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham, said: “Police leaders told us that tackling domestic abuse is important, but in the majority of forces it is a priority on paper only and not in practice. It is deeply disappointing that the stated intent is not translating into an operational reality. Domestic abuse must be seen as everyone’s business in a force, rather than someone else’s problem.”
She continued: “Although this report identifies the need for the Police Service urgently to improve its overall response, we recognise that there has been considerable progress over the last decade. Our inspection found committed and dedicated police officers and staff who work tirelessly to keep people safe and bring offenders to justice – sometimes with limited support from their own organisations. They should be commended for their work.”
4Children Chief Executive Anne Longfield said: “Those who are subjected to domestic violence or have witnessed it need intensive support. Nearly a million children grow up in a household where domestic violence takes place, but our own polling shows that just 35% of people know where to seek support. The HM Inspectorate of Constabulary’s report today highlights a real need for professionals to work together in a far more joined up way to give those affected by domestic violence the support they need and to intervene early to provide the intensive support for those families in crisis and tackle the wider picture of conflict and violence that encompasses the whole family.”
Read ‘Everybody’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse’ here: http://www.hmic.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/improving-the-police-response-to-domestic-abuse.pdf