Refuge responds to Home Secretary’s comments on investigating the police response to domestic violence

Refuge calls for a public inquiry into police and other state agencies’ response to domestic violence

Home Secretary Theresa May today stated that she has discussed investigating the way police forces are responding to incidents of domestic violence with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

Sandra Horley CBESandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, says:

“I am pleased that Theresa May is speaking to the HMIC about investigating the police response to domestic violence. At Refuge we hear from countless women who are in great danger and who feel let down by the police. Two women a week are killed by a current or former partner – many of these women have had prior contact with the police.

“This announcement is a positive step and an example of the strong leadership from Government needed to make a difference to the horrific statistics on domestic violence. However, Refuge strongly believes that a public inquiry is needed to establish what is going wrong and why so many abused women are still losing their lives.

“A public inquiry would be much broader in scope, and would examine the response of all state agencies to domestic violence, including the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, social services and health services. Refuge believes that all state agencies need to improve the way they respond to women and children who are living with fear and violence at home.

“A public inquiry would also be independent and transparent, and hear from a whole range of relevant parties – including victims, families of women who have been killed by a current or former partner, and experts like Refuge. It is important that any investigation captures the picture of police practice on domestic violence from every angle.

“It is heartening to hear that the Home Secretary acknowledges the need for the police to improve their response to domestic violence. However, specialist domestic violence services like refuges are being decimated by local authority funding cuts. If there is nowhere for a woman to go, she faces a stark choice: stay with a violent partner or sleep on the street. With many refuges and other services at risk of closure, improvements to police practice will have a limited impact.

“Domestic violence is a huge social problem. Two women a week are killed by a current or former partner – an unacceptable death toll. It is a national problem requiring a national solution – and funding on a national level to protect the services that make the difference between life and death.”

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