Police forces in England and Wales have been issued with new guidance to enable the police to prosecute cases of domestic violence without the need for a victim to testify.
The guidance relies on police identifying patterns of abuse. Unlike previous guidance, there is also a section aimed primarily at supporting first responders at an incident, who have to deal with criminal offences, as well as conducting a risk assessment and safeguard the victim.
First responders will be issued with a toolkit containing a checklist for call handlers and front counter staff at police stations who have to deal with reports of domestic violence.
The College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice (APP) for the first time advises senior officers about their responsibilities to maintain specialist police officers who deal with cases of domestic violence – as well as the responsibility to establish clear pathways of support for victims.
The guidance also emphasises the importance of prosecutions which are solely evidence led, rather than relying on victims to build the case.
The guidance focuses on the dynamics of abusive relationships and coercive control – a new offence which is expected to come into force later in 2015.
College of Policing lead for crime and criminal justice, David Tucker, said:
“Domestic abuse is a pervasive problem across the UK, involving both men and women – and officers do exemplary work in safeguarding victims and bringing offenders to justice.
“To tackle a domestic abuse case successfully, police need to see the big picture behind an individual incident.
“This depends on officers being properly trained and having access to information about both the victim and the perpetrator; effective and accurate risk management, partnership working and information sharing.
“The failure of any of these links can be the difference between life and death for a victim.
“Our research indicated the need for a culture change within policing attitudes towards domestic abuse. Sometimes police cannot understand why a victim would stay in an abusive relationship. There are dozens of reasons why victims feel unable to leave or support prosecution.
“It is the responsibility of the perpetrator to stop the abuse and the responsibility of the police to bring the perpetrator to justice – the victim is not responsible for either.
“Officers need to investigate domestic abuse proactively and our APP and toolkits – as well as our training programmes and research – are designed to help them do that.”
Duncan Lewis Domestic Violence Solicitors
Duncan Lewis is a leading firm of specialist domestic violence solicitors able to advise victims of domestic abuse on how to tackle the issue under the law.
Duncan Lewis can advise on domestic violence under UK law and Islamic law, including domestic abuse involving heterosexual and same sex partners, abuse against elderly family members, child-parent abuse, abuse between flatmates and psychological or financial domestic abuse.
Duncan Lewis also advises on abuse involving forced marriage and FGM, as well as child abuse within the family.
There are Duncan Lewis offices nationwide and Duncan Lewis is a leading provider of Legal Aid services.
For expert and confidential legal advice on domestic abuse issues, call the Duncan Lewis Domestic Violence Solicitors Helpline on 07920 077054.