Police must work alongside multi-agency teams to protect victims of domestic abuse
2nd March 2017
HMIC’s report highlights the pressures that police forces face to protect victims of crime in general and victims of domestic abuse in particular. It is unacceptable that perpetrators are invisible in so many cases and not held to account for their actions. From over 1 million calls to the police each year about domestic abuse, only 75,000 perpetrators are convicted at court. We will never protect victims unless we tackle the root of the problem - the perpetrator. We can only do this with an effective police service and criminal justice system which works alongside and in partnership with local specialists.
We are encouraged to see that reporting rates continue to rise. We recognise the increased pressure this puts on the response, but victims of domestic abuse coming forward to get help must be welcomed. A transparent and urgent conversation is needed about how forces can respond to this increase and how to develop the culture and leadership needed to effect substantial change. Our experience of delivering the Domestic Abuse Matters change programme to several forces underlines the difference that this can make.
We need national political support to prioritise the protection of victims, and management of perpetrators. We must find new ways of working, sharing information and utilising tech solutions; this must be done with input directly from victims and the specialist services that have the knowledge and expertise required to keep the victim of domestic abuse central to the response. The police will only ever be able to respond effectively to victims of domestic abuse with a radical change in attitudes, reinforced by brave leadership. There needs to be a change in culture that ensures officers look beyond what is being immediately presented to them. But the police response remains just part of the challenge. We know that 4 out of 5 victims never call the police. Without more engagement from the health service in particular, the harm caused by domestic abuse will continue to rise.