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Police response to victims of domestic abuse ‘has improved markedly’

Inspectorate publishes progress report on police response to domestic abuse

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has published its third in a series of thematic reports which consider the response provided to victims of domestic abuse by the police service. Since the first report in March 2014 HMICFRS has found that the service provided by the police to victims of domestic abuse has improved markedly. Victims are now better supported and better protected.

The latest report is based upon inspection findings from 2016, and highlights continued improvement.

The report notes that In England and Wales, there is an unrelenting and increasing demand for the police to respond to incidents of domestic abuse. The total number of reported domestic abuse crimes has increased from 353,063 in the 12 months to March 2015, to 434,095 in the 12 months to June 2016. This represents a 23 percent increase in a year. For the 12 months to 30 June 2016, domestic abuse-related crime made up just over 11 percent of all recorded crime and represented 33 percent of all recorded crimes that involved assault with injury. The level of domestic abuse recorded by the police has increased by over 60 percent in less than three years.

ONS suggests possible explanations for the rise include improvements in recording and an increase in the reporting of domestic abuse. Forces have been actively encouraging victims to come forward to report crimes, and it may be that this is reflected in this increase.

The report notes that as a result of significant investment in training, attitudes of frontline officers have started to improve, along with their understanding of the importance of dealing with victims in a supportive and sympathetic way.

Nevertheless, during this inspection, HMICFRS found seven out of 43 forces in England and Wales to have a 'cause of concern'5 in relation to their response to domestic abuse. HMICFRS also found a total of 33 forces out of 43 which had 'areas for improvement6' in relation to domestic abuse.

The inspection identified a number of areas where further improvement is required. These included:

For the full report, click here.