SafeLives responds to the HMICFRS’ interim report calling for cross-sectoral reform in the criminal justice system

We are pleased to see HMICFRS’ interim report today call for whole-system, cross-sectoral reform in the criminal justice system to respond to perpetrators of violence against women and girls. We also welcome the call for an unequivocal, cross-government prioritisation of the response to crimes which disproportionately affect women and girls.

The report highlights the beneficial impact of specialist support on victims of domestic abuse who choose to go through the criminal justice system, including Idvas, Isvas, and wider community-based services. We know that, for many adult survivors, having specialist domestic abuse professionals supporting them through this process helps to increase their safety and that of their children, as well as reducing attrition in the criminal justice system. It is vital that specialist support which responds to the whole family – all victims and perpetrators of abuse – is fully and sustainably funded through a new duty to commission services in the upcoming Victim’s Bill.

We know that only one in five victims of domestic abuse calls the police. There are many barriers to survivors accessing the criminal justice system so it is vital that the police have the training, capacity and capability to effectively and sensitively respond to victims and investigate cases when survivors do decide to report their experience of abuse. We hope that forces who have not yet adopted the DA Matters cultural change programme do so with urgency.

We look forward to working closely with HMICFRS over the next few months as they build upon their initial findings and work to further include the voices of survivors of domestic abuse.