Domestic violence victims 'not taken seriously by police'

 

Deputy Political Editor

Women’s lives are being put in jeopardy by the “alarming” failure of police across the country to treat domestic violence seriously and professionally enough, a damning report by inspectors warns today.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary [HMIC] concluded that 35 of the 43 forces in England and Wales were providing a substandard service to women who dial 999 after suffering violence in the home.

With a woman killed every five days by a violent partner or ex-partner, HMIC warned the treatment of victims was “often a lottery” depending on where they lived, with some women put at “ unnecessary and avoidable risk”.

It found officers often omitted to photograph victims’ injuries or to take detailed notes on cases.

Many forces were also let down by “antiquated” technology that failed to provide officers with information about repeat offenders. It warned of poor leadership on the issue in many areas and disclosed that numbers of arrests for domestic abuse varied dramatically between forces.

Domestic abuse accounts for eight per cent of all recorded crime, with police receiving a call for help every 30 seconds from a woman reporting violence.

While police chiefs pay “lip service” to taking domestic abuse seriously, many officers appear more focused on tackling organised crime or burglary, the HMIC said.

It singled out Lancashire Police for its high quality response and also had praise for Dorset, Durham, Norfolk, Northumbria, Suffolk, Thames Valley and Warwickshire constabularies.

But it warned of failings in every other force, with “very serious concerns” about the performance of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Gloucestershire and Greater Manchester Police.

Bedfordshire had just one officer working in its specialist domestic violence unit and the inspectors uncovered a case of a victim’s 13-year-old daughter acting as an interpreter for officers in Manchester investigating allegations against her father.

The inspectors, who interviewed hundreds of victims, found many felt they not been taken seriously or “felt judged” when they alerted police.

They said there were “unacceptable variations” nationwide in responses to offences, ranging from just over 40 per cent of crimes resulting in arrest in Northamptonshire to close to 100 per cent arrest rates in Cleveland and South Wales. There was a similar dramatic variation in numbers of perpetrators who are charged.

Tom Winsor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said: “Domestic abuse casts a truly terrible blight on the lives of very many people and can have tragic consequences.

“In too many police forces we found there were serious weaknesses in services, which are putting victims at unnecessary and avoidable risk, and failings in some core police activity.”

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who commissioned the inspection, described its findings as “deeply worrying” and said she would chair a “national oversight group” to drive through reforms.

She said: “I expect chief constables to respond to this report by changing radically their response to domestic violence. They owe it to victims of these appalling crimes to do so.”

Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said the situation had been deteriorating for three years.

She added: "We need answers from the Home Secretary about why things are getting so much worse and what she will do to improve action by the police, prosecution and support services too.”

According to figures last week, police recorded 60,080 incidents of domestic abuse in Scotland in 2012-13, a rise of 233 on the previous 12 months.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: LGV Driver - Category C or C+E

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national Company that manu...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - OTE £30,000

£13000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Assistant

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Maintenance Assistant is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?