Alarming and Unacceptable Weaknesses

Home Secretary, Theresa May commented upon the report undertaken by HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary) in respect of the response by Police in domestic abuse matters.

The HMIC states … “not all police leaders are ensuring that domestic abuse is a priority in their forces – it is often a poor relation to other policing activity.”

Most forces and police and crime commissioners have said that domestic abuse is a priority for their areas, however, on the ground, this is not the reality.

The report highlights concern about the quality of the initial investigation undertaken by responding officers when they are called to a scene and also identifies that officers may lack the necessary supervision, knowledge and skills to effectively to tackle domestic abuse, and noted that some officers have poor attitudes.

This is of course alarming and concerning to victims of domestic violence who, as previously highlighted, already found it difficult to report such matters to the police. This may further dissuade victims from coming forward. It is hoped that the recommendations will be taken on board by the poor performing forces to provide the best level of support and assistance possible to victims of domestic abuse. A national monitoring group has been suggested to help bring about improvements.

One of the problems that many officers encounter is one of evidence. It is incredibly difficult to establish evidence for a criminal prosecution in domestic abuse cases as there are often no witnesses or any substantial evidence.

An alternative to the criminal route is to obtain a Non Molestation Order. This type of injunction is civil in nature and the standard of proof required differs to that required by the CPS, which can help in matters where there is little evidence available. In the event that a civil injunction is breached, a criminal offence is then committed.

If you are a victim of domestic violence; we can help by providing specialist advice about how to protect you and your children. We can also refer you to support services available locally. For further information please contact us.