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Home Secretary to oversee work by forces to tackle “alarming and unacceptable weaknesses" in dealing with domestic violence and abuse.
The Home Secretary will be leading widespread action to improve the police response to victims of domestic violence and abuse after a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found systematic failings.
HMIC was commissioned by the Home Secretary in September 2013 to review all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
Findings from the report included a lack of visible leadership, frontline officers without the knowledge or experience to spot dangerous patterns of behaviour and a failure by some forces to collect evidence properly.
The Home Secretary has today (27 March 2014) announced that she will personally chair a national group to ensure police forces take decisive action over failings in culture, attitude and core skills.
She has written to chief constables and police force leads on domestic abuse, making clear that every police force must have an action plan in place by September to improve their response to domestic violence and abuse.
The Home Office will be improving data standards, reviewing the Domestic Homicide Review process and sharing best practice on tackling perpetrators in line with HMIC’s recommendations.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
Domestic violence ruins lives and is completely unacceptable. That is why since I was appointed Home Secretary it has been one of my top priorities.
Last year I commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to undertake a comprehensive report on how the police deal with domestic violence because I was concerned that the response is inadequate.
HMIC’s report makes for depressing reading, and its findings are deeply worrying. It exposes significant failings, including a lack of visible police leadership and direction, poor victim care and deficiencies in the collection of important evidence.
HMIC makes a series of recommendations to forces and I expect them all to be implemented quickly. To make sure that change happens, I am establishing a new national oversight group, which I will chair myself. And I have written to chief constables making it clear that every police force must have an action plan in place by September 2014.
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.
Last year 77 women were killed by their current or former partner. More than a million women suffered physical or psychological abuse.
The government is committed to tackling domestic violence and abuse and to delivering a better response for the victims of these appalling crimes.
Earlier this month, the Home Secretary announced the national roll-out of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS). The scheme – also known as Clare’s Law - is designed to provide victims with information that may protect them from an abusive situation before it ends in tragedy. Following a request, the scheme allows the police to disclose information about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) are also being rolled out nationally. This new power will enable police and magistrates’ courts to provide protection to victims in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident
In addition, the government has ring-fenced nearly £40 million of funding for specialist local support services and national helplines to help people escape abusive situations.