SafeLives welcomes HMICFRS progress report on the police response to domestic abuse

26th February 2019

UK domestic abuse charity, SafeLives, welcomes the latest report looking at progress made in the police response to domestic abuse, but urges further training to understand the dynamics of domestic abuse, particularly controlling behaviours. 

Today, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) publishes its latest progress report on the police response to domestic abuse. The report shows there has been an increase in the number of domestic abuse crimes being recorded. This may be a positive as we know only around 20% of victims currently report their abuse to the police. However, the report shows that the reasons for this increase are not fully understood and, worryingly, arrest rates are falling, with large variations between forces.  

HMICFRS also highlights the need for increased police training in domestic abuse, particularly abuses of power and controlling behaviours – sometimes referred to as coercive control. Since the publication of the HMICFRS report ‘Everyone’s Business’ in 2014, SafeLives have been working with the College of Policing to develop and deliver Domestic Abuse Matters to more than 30% of police forces in England and Wales. Domestic Abuse Matters is a change programme for police forces, which offers long term attitudinal and behaviour change. The programme helps the police understand what is meant by the term coercive control and prompts them to recognise the high levels of manipulation being used by those perpetrating it. Feedback to date has been highly positive: "If we had this training earlier, we undoubtedly would have saved lives".  

Given the findings in this report and the recent publication of the Government’s draft Domestic Abuse Bill, which calls for further policing training, we hope to see a commitment to this training from every police force in England and Wales.  

Suzanne Jacob OBE, Chief Executive of SafeLives, said:  

“The police play a vital role in the response to domestic abuse – protecting victims and children and holding perpetrators to account. We welcome the latest HMICFRS report which shows domestic abuse continues to be a priority for the police. This commitment must be backed up by training to help all forces understand the dynamics of domestic abuse. When victims do report these crimes, no matter who they are, or where they live, they need to receive a quality, consistent response that sees the whole picture of their experiences and helps them become safe and well. Over two million people each year in the UK experience domestic abuse. There is a growing body of evidence to show the strong co-relation between abuse and mental ill-health, insecure housing and financial position, and vulnerability to other crime. An effective response helps everyone.” 

 

Notes to editors 

About the HMICFRS report 

This report is the fourth in a series of thematic reports from the HMICFRS to consider the response provided to victims of domestic abuse by the police service. 

Since the publication of the HMICFRS’s first thematic report on domestic abuse Everyone’s business: improving the police response to domestic abuse in 2014, there have been considerable improvements in the overall police response to domestic abuse. This report identifies further improvements to ensure victims of domestic abuse are better protected and supported. 

About SafeLives 

SafeLives is a UK charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insights from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Last year alone, over 70,000 adults and 130,000 children received dedicated support from interventions we have designed with partners in the sector. 

For interviews or more information, please contact Penny East, Head of Communications, on 07818593562 or at penny.east@safelives.org.uk