Report criticises police approach to domestic abuse

By Lenore Rice

A new report by the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has criticised the response of police forces to claims by domestic abuse victims.

The report looked at 43 police forces in England and Wales, and found that only 8 forces dealt with domestic abuse crimes satisfactorily. Of those police forces found lacking, the report said that many files did not include basic but essential evidence, such as photographs of injuries sustained, and other forces had no systems for prioritising calls from victims with a known history of domestic abuse attacks. The report also considered that many police officers were simply failing to treat domestic abuse with the same degree of seriousness as other crimes, with victims telling the HMIC that the officers who dealt with them lacked "empathy and understanding".

The report comes against a background of increased reports of domestic abuse but falling prosecution levels. Charity groups who deal with domestic abuse victims often talk of the need for more victims to come forward, saying the recorded figures of domestic violence are just the tip of the ice-berg. An improved police response to domestic abuse call-outs is essential to improve willingness of victims to come forward. The HMIC report calls on police to allocate the same resources to domestic abuse crimes, which represent 8 per cent of all crimes in England and Wales, as it does to burglary and other high volume crimes.

If you or someone you know has experienced domestic abuse, and urgently requires legal advice, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast for information on obtaining temporary local authority accommodation, or emergency Court Orders including Non-molestation and Occupation Orders, by calling 0800 840 1363.