The stark reality: domestic abuse is still treated as a “second class crime” by police

27th March 2014

Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables have a clear responsibility to stop domestic abuse being treated as a second class crime within their forces, Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (Caada) said today.

Responding to the launch of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's (HMIC) review of the police response to domestic violence, the national charity said that whilst there are pockets of good police practice, many of the issues highlighted in today's review were identified in a similar a review by HMIC and Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) 10 years ago.1 Where there have been improvements, it has been in areas involving partnership with the voluntary sector, particularly in relation to high risk victims.

Caada is calling for strong leadership to address the problem and to make sure that in the words of the report, domestic violence becomes a priority in practice, not just on paper. The findings published today highlight an inconsistent and inadequate frontline police response, low levels of committed police resource versus high levels of crime2, and a postcode lottery of specialist Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (Idva) services.3

Responsibility for funding victim services will transfer to Police and Crime Commissioners from October 2014. CAADA's research shows that, in many police force areas, there are just not enough specialist services to meet demand. The charity estimates that across the UK, only 50% of high risk victims get support from an Idva. CAADA is calling for Police and Crime Commissioners to review capacity in their area and ensure that victims get vital specialist support which allows the police to undertake their role more effectively.

Chief Executive Diana Barran said: “We really welcome the review's findings, particularly its call for more Idva provision, a review of how risk assessment is used by the police and improved learning from domestic homicide reviews. We look forward to seeing the leadership, accountability and transparency that can move domestic violence from being treated as a second class crime by the police to one where victims get the response that they deserve. Most of the recommendations from the 2004 HMIC and HMCPSI review were never implemented effectively – there is no excuse for this to happen again.” 

1 http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/inspectorates.homeoffice.gov.uk/hmic/inspections/thematic/vah/them04-vah.pdf?view=Binary

2 Roughly 4% of police budget is spent on domestic abuse related activity, however the HMIC review makes clear that 8% of all crime is domestic abuse related.

3 Idvas are named professional case workers who liaise with victims and multi-agency partners, including the police, to develop coordinated safety plans and take practical steps to protect victims and their children.

Please note, Caada is the former name of SafeLives.