Commissioner promises more officers to tackle domestic abuse

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A YORKSHIRE crime commissioner says more must be done to tackle domestic abuse after a report by a Government watchdog said the response by police forces nationwide was “not good enough”.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said it found “alarming and unacceptable weaknesses” in the way some forces help victims of domestic attacks. Though some forces performed well, poor attitudes, ineffective training and inadequate evidence-gathering were all heavily criticised by the watchdog, which has called for an urgent overhaul of the response to domestic abuse.

The review said South Yorkshire Police was treating domestic abuse as a “recognised priority” but said there were “risks some victims may not be getting the service they need”.

HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Northern Region, Roger Baker said: “The force responds well to the victims facing the highest risks. However, for those assessed as being at less risk, the service is not as good. There are serious weaknesses in the initial response and risk assessment of all domestic abuse victims, which the force has recognised. Plans are in place to introduce an improved approach.”

Shaun Wright, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, said that he and the force’s chief constable would work to introduce HMIC’s recommendations. He said: “I have repeatedly said that protecting the most vulnerable in society is my number one priority and the report clearly identifies how the £5 million investment in public protection will see an additional 102 officers, with a designated officer appointed to identify serious and serial perpetrators.”

Other Yorkshire forces were also criticised in the report, though inspectors praised some work being done. Humberside Police was said to have a “fragmented and inconsistent approach, while HMIC said there were “some risks and inconsistencies” in the way West Yorkshire Police tackles domestic abuse. North Yorkshire Police was said to have “effective working practices” but still had opportunities to improve.

A 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline is run by Women’s Aid and Refuge on 0808 2000 247.