Police should raise awareness levels

Two government inspectorates have called for a review of domestic
violence training for police officers amid concerns that awareness
of the issue is poor.

Forces should look at the content and extent of awareness and
training on domestic violence for officers. They were also advised
to support staff and to ensure specialist officers were correctly

The recommendations were made by the Crown Prosecution Service
Inspectorate and the Inspectorate of Constabulary.

In the cases examined by the inspectorates, only 11 per cent of
domestic violence incidents recorded as crimes led to convictions.
Of the 463 incidents police attended, 118 crimes were recorded and
charges were made in relation to only 21 per cent.

But typically only 50 per cent of those charged would be convicted
in the courts.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of domestic violence charity Refuge,
said many abused women did not receive enough protection and
support from the police and the courts. She called for more
government funding to tackle the problem. “Only then can we hope to
bring an end to the two women a week who die at the hands of a
perpetrator,” she said.

Inspectors did praise the development of domestic violence cluster
courts which, they said, helped to ensure cases were “handled more
professionally and with an appropriate degree of seriousness”.

The first annual review of the Specialist Domestic Violence Court
at West London Magistrates’ Court, the first in the country to hear
such trials, reported the average number of hearings per case in
the area had more than halved from 7.5 to 3.6 since it began

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