Response to HMICFRS Policing review

Today, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published their review of how police forces responded to domestic abuse during the Covid19 pandemic.

Read the report

It’s clear from HMIC’s review that the police response to domestic abuse victims during the pandemic has flexed to respond to increased demand, with welcome new routes for online reporting and greater use of protective orders.

As restrictions ease, we support HMICFRS’ call that domestic abuse continues to be a key focus for the police. We know from our own surveys that many people haven’t felt able to reach out for support and we are expecting calls on police and other services to rise as lockdown ends.

We are really concerned to see the downward trend in arrests for domestic abuse, just at the point when demand on specialist services and calls to national helplines are at much higher levels than pre-Covid.

Too many victims and survivors of domestic abuse are being left without adequate support and protection from criminal justice agencies. The high number of cases where no further action is taken sends a terrible signal to victims who have reached out for support and emboldens perpetrators. We urge all forces who have not undertaken DA Matters training to do so now.

An academic study has shown an associated increase in arrests for coercive and controlling behaviour (CBB) of 41% in those forces who have received the training. All victims and survivors deserve to be responded to by officers who have a good understanding of domestic abuse and CCB.

HMIC also notes that domestic abuse represents 35% of all reported violence against the person offences. This is huge and is a clear reason why the Government should include domestic abuse in its definition of serious violence in the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill, currently making its way through Parliament.

The increased response of police to domestic abuse during Covid speaks to HMIC’s important report in 2014 that it is ‘Everyone’s Business’.

We hope that this commitment continues to be upheld by the police, multi-agency partners and our whole society as we move towards Covid recovery. Victims and survivors deserve no less.

Liz Thompson, Director of External Relations at SafeLives