Police improvements needed to keep domestic abuse victims safe


A national inspection into how officers respond to cases of domestic violence has shown Lincolnshire Police is ‘generally effective’ – but further improvements are needed to keep victims safe.

Nationally, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has identified the UK police response to domestic abuse is ‘not good enough and must be improved’.

HMIC’s inspection considered the effectiveness of the police approach to domestic abuse and whether risks to victims are adequately managed.

In Lincolnshire, domestic abuse accounts for two per cent of calls to the police for assistance and domestic abuse accounts for seven per cent of all recorded crime.

The force also recorded 2,783 assaults with injury, of these 941 were domestic abuse related. This is 34 per cent of all assaults with injury recorded for the 12 months to end of August 2013.

In Lincolnshire, HMIC found that:

l Identifying victims - in Lincolnshire, police call handlers are well trained in identifying domestic abuse and have a good understanding of risk assessment.

l Keeping victims safe - domestic abuse is a stated priority for the police and crime commissioner and the force.

l Management of risk - the force works hard to make victims safer from the first point of contact; however there is limited supervision and management of cases where the victims are assessed as medium or standard risk of serious harm.

l Organisational effectiveness for keeping people safe - although the force has a comprehensive approach to managing victim safety there are areas which it could strengthen to improve its service to victims of domestic abuse.

HM Inspector of Constabulary for the eastern region, Zoë Billingham said: “Lincolnshire Police is generally effective at tackling domestic abuse, however, there are some areas that require further improvement before there is confidence that the police are working as well as they should to help keep victims of domestic abuse safe.

“Tackling domestic abuse is a priority for the police and crime commissioner (PCC) and the chief constable. “Staff demonstrate a high level of commitment, and support to victims to help make them safe. There are dedicated domestic abuse officers and experienced detectives to investigate crimes.

“However there are some inconsistent practices across the force and gaps in the service that the police provide to some victims.

“For those victims who are assessed as medium or standard risk, the force needs to improve both its supervision of these cases, as well as how and when the risk is reviewed, so that it is clear who is responsible for keeping these victims safe. There are also inconsistencies about how victims are updated if a perpetrator is released from custody, and about how the force ensures that the risk assessment is reviewed at this critical time.

“The force has developed strong links with partner agencies in delivering a more co-ordinated response to domestic abuse. This report outlines a number of areas where the force could further strengthen its response.”