‘Huge concern’ over number of domestic abuse cases dropped, police watchdog finds

Police must immediately review why so many domestic abuse cases are dropped, a watchdog has said after it found victims were put at greater risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said it was of “huge concern” that on average three in every four domestic abuse-related crimes are closed by the police without the perpetrator being charged.

But in the inspection of how officers responded to domestic abuse during the pandemic, forces were praised for the efforts made to prevent the crime and protect victims.

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Inspector of constabulary Zoe Billingham said: “Victims of domestic abuse were at greater risk during the Covid-19 pandemic when lockdown restrictions made it even harder to escape their abusers.

Police must immediately review why so many domestic abuse cases are dropped, a watchdog has said after it found victims were put at greater risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The police responded proactively by communicating with known victims, reaching in to those locked down, rather than waiting for them to reach out.

“We saw brilliant examples of forces up and down the country using innovative new ways to keep victims safe during the pandemic.

“I applaud forces for this. I also want to thank frontline officers who bravely risked their own safety to attend domestic abuse incidents throughout the lockdown periods.”

She said the police had shown they are “dedicated to protecting victims of domestic abuse”, but added: “We still have some concerns about the longer-term response. It’s a huge concern that on average, three in every four domestic abuse related crimes are closed by the police without the perpetrator being charged.

“Many forces are unable to explain the reasons why so many perpetrators are not being brought to justice. Today we are calling on all forces to immediately review why so many domestic abuse cases are being closed without any further action taken and to take steps to address this.”

Despite the concerns, there has been a “positive shift over the last few years with the police prioritising domestic abuse”, she added, saying victims “should not be discouraged from reporting”.