Three inspectorates have made recommendations on how police can improve the quality of investigations into domestic abuse allegedly committed by police officers or staff.
Action also needs to be taken to better protect and support victims, according to the College of Policing, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
They conducted a joint investigation into a super-complaint submitted by the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ). Among their recommendations are:
- Police forces should ensure allegations of police-perpetrated domestic abuse are investigated by someone with no prior connection to those involved. Cases may be transferred to another force;
- Police and Crime Commissioners, the Ministry of Justice and chief constables should ensure their domestic abuse support services and guidance meet the needs of victims of police-perpetrated domestic abuse;
- National guidance to be made clearer on the risks and challenges of domestic abuse allegations against staff; and
- Chief constables should audit all live allegations of domestic abuse against officers and staff as well as investigations closed within the last year.
In addition, the IOPC will carry out a targeted programme of oversight work into how forces handle such cases.
The inspectorates’ investigation found misconduct investigations are not always carried out when they should be in England and Wales.
The review also found some police forces are not doing enough to take account of a victim’s needs when the suspect works for the police, nor do they consistently go the extra mile to show they understand the importance of protecting and demonstrating the integrity of the police response.
However, the inspectorates said they found no evidence investigations into domestic abuse committed by officers or staff were conducted less well than other cases: the charge rate was similar in both categories.
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Roy Wilsher said: “Though most police officers act with the utmost integrity, we found that not all forces are treating these cases with the gravity they deserve, and that is not good enough.”
Welcoming the detailed investigation, CWJ solicitor Nogah Ofer and author of the super-complaint commented: “We are, however, disappointed that the recommendations for reform fall short of making the changes we believe are imperative to create a system that can foster trust and confidence for survivors and the public.”