Police forces in England and Wales are stretched by a surge in reports of domestic abuse

Judi Bonham, Managing Partner and Head of Family Legal Services at WSP Solicitors
Records of domestic abuse cases rose by a staggering 31% between 2013 and 2015, a HMIC report has unearthed that there were a mammoth 900,000 calls made to police in England and Wales in the 12 months leading up to March 2015.

This is a report written by Zoe Billingham, HM Inspector of Constabulary, which follows on from the one published by HMIC in March 2014 which highlighted “significant weaknesses” in the service police gave domestic abuse victims, with only eight out of 43 forces responding well to domestic abuse. Nine forces were assessed as having “cause for concern” and a further 15 had “areas for improvement”.

Ms Billingham states the recent increase in domestic abuse incidents is a good thing as it means more people are reporting abuse. Explaining why this is an improvement, the report says the rise could be partly due to better recording by police and forces “actively encouraging” victims to come forward.

However, although perceived in a positive light, resources are urgently required to prevent a further slippage in standards of investigation. With the Christmas period underway and threats of police cuts, it is said that the “excessive” workloads have affected and will affect the quality and speed of investigations in some forces.

New officers are being trained to deal with these cases and many forces are investing more in their specialist teams, with the hope that every frontline officer has the correct skills and the right tools available to them to deal with the problems at hand effectively.

For legal advice on domestic abuse or any other family legal matter please email judibonham@wspsolicitors.com or call 01453 847200.

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