Domestic Violence – Change in Police policy

In January (2013),  The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) announced a pilot scheme which will I believe will leave thousands of Domestic Violence victims at risk of further violence and even death.

At present the police are expected to go through a checklist of questions designed to identify victims who are at a high risk of serious Domestic Violence or murder.  The checklist was created using many real life case studies where women had been murdered by their partners and many of the cases were found to have similar characteristics.  The checklist was drawn up to identify those most at risk so that an action plan and specialist help could be put in place to help them and avoid further serious injuries or death.

I believe that this has been very successful and saved the lives of scores of women and children since it was introduced. Prior to the introduction of the checklist women were often not taken seriously by the police and other agencies and their cases were not given the priority and specially trained professionals needed to ensure that they were protected. I have met many women who tell me how they have noticed that things have changed over the last few years and how what used to be referred to as “just a domestic” by the police now results in immediate action and successful prosecutions.

ACPO state that the pilot scheme is designed to “reduce bureaucracy” allowing them to be used on a discretionary, rather than a compulsory, basis.  This is a very dangerous proposition as it pre-supposes that the police do not need the checklist tool and that they are capable on a day to day basis of treating Domestic Violence seriously and identifying high risk victims unaided. The whole point of the checklist being introduced was because it had been shown time and time again that many officers did not possess these skills and as a result scores of women who had attempted to obtain police assistance had been slain by their partners after an inadequate police response. The checklists are to ensure that victims who would have ordinarily have fallen through the net are picked up before its too late.

I do not accept that this will save money or time for the police as it is far more expensive dealing with continual repeat Domestic Violence call outs and even more expensive to investigate a murder and a subsequent investigation of police failings.  Even with the existing policy to carry out the checklists I still see too many women being given poor advice and assistance by the police and I really do shudder to think about what it would be like to return to the dark ages of policing without this essential tool which would be a tragic backward step for society.

  • More than 2 women a week are killed by a current or former partner in the UK
  • Domestic Violence accounts for almost 20% of all violent crime and of those approximately 75% are repeat victims
  • A woman is assaulted on average 35 times before she calls for help
  • Domestic Violence is estimated to cost the British taxpayer £3.9 billion every year


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