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Huge gaps in police DA specialist training

More than ten million people were living in areas at the end of last year where no police officers had received special guidance on handling domestic abuse.

An official report published in 2014 had highlighted the issue, leading to SafeLives creating the DA Matters programme.

Data released under freedom of information laws revealed officers in nine police forces had not received DA Matters training or an alternative by end-2021, the Observer newspaper reported. In most cases, only a few officers had been given specialist training.

The stand out exception was Lancashire Police where all officers had received accredited training as recommended by the College of Policing.

In its 2014 report, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said the findings showed a “startling lack of awareness of domestic abuse and inconsistent or poor practice” at most forces. A fundamental overhaul of training was needed.

The newspaper reported Zoe Billingham, the inspector of police at the time, as saying it was disappointing forces were not routinely training all their officers on the complexity of domestic abuse, understanding coercive behaviour and understanding how risk is escalating. “Frankly, that’s what saves lives,” she added.

The Home Office said it has provided funds for the DA Matters’ rollout but the programme’s lead, Pete Williams, conceded significant barriers existed including cost and officers having the time to attend.

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