Refuge statement on the HMICFRS police response to domestic abuse update report 2019


Today (26 February, 2019) Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Fire and Rescue Service (HMICFRS) published an update report on the police response to domestic abuse.

“Five years since the first report on police responses to domestic violence, the findings of the latest inspection sadly show there is still significant room for improvement. One in four women in the UK continue to be affected by domestic abuse in their lifetime, and two women are still killed by current or former partners every week in England and Wales,” said Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge.

“It is important to note that there have been some reported improvements over the last five years, however the reality remains that the system continues to fail many domestic abuse victims.”

While there has been a rise in reported domestic abuse, in part due to increased reporting by victims and better recording by police, the fact that arrests for domestic abuse crimes have fallen across 23 police forces is of grave concern to Refuge. This drop in arrests is all the more worrying, given that it was raised as a major issue in the last report in 2017.

Equally alarming is the impact of recent changes to the Bail Act, which have resulted in a decrease in the use of police bail and, subsequently, had negative consequences for domestic abuse victims.

Ms. Horley said: “The number of suspects being released on bail for domestic abuse crimes has dropped by a staggering 65%. Some Refuge services are reporting fewer cases where the police have applied bail conditions, leaving victims at considerable risk of further violence and intimidation. If perpetrators are being allowed to walk away with no restrictions in place, victims of domestic abuse are not being offered the police protection they deserve.”

“Many of the women we support on a daily basis tell us they simply don’t go to the police because they fear they won’t be believed or it won’t make a difference. Many more tell us the criminal justice system is too complex, intimidating or is unlikely to bring them justice. Today’s report is a sad indictment of the poor treatment many victims receive when they are at their most vulnerable and need the protection of the police the most. We must ensure that all reports of domestic abuse are taken seriously, survivors feel protected and supported, and a strong message is sent to perpetrators that abuse will not be tolerated,” said Ms. Horley

Read the full report here.

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