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27 March 2014, 05:00
A new report from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has identified significant concerns about the ability of Gloucestershire Constabulary to deal with victims of domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse accounts for 3% of calls to Gloucestershire police for assistance. Of these calls, 42% were from repeat victims and domestic abuse accounts for 6% of all recorded crime. The constabulary also recorded 2,362 assaults with injury, of these 771 were domestic abuse related. This is 33% of all assaults with injury recorded for the 12 months to end of August 2013.
In Gloucestershire, HMIC found that:
Identifying victims - HMIC found key risks in the way the constabulary manage the initial service to victims. While there is commitment at the first point of contact to identify victims of domestic abuse, processes are not routinely followed to ensure a consistent approach.
Keeping victims safe - although, there is strong commitment to tackling domestic abuse within the constabulary's public protection bureau (PPB), HMIC found that across the constabulary as a whole there is a lack of clear ownership; and, other than where a serious crime has occurred there are weaknesses and inconsistencies in the response to domestic abuse victims, especially in relation to their safeguarding.
Management of risk - victims of domestic abuse that are subject of serious crime receive an good service from the PPB. However, the service to victims not dealt with by the PPB is disjointed and inconsistent.
Organisational effectiveness for keeping people safe - HMIC found various points in the process where the systems are not sufficiently robust to manage future risk to victims in an effective way.
HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Wales and Western Region, Dru Sharpling, said: ''HMIC has significant concerns about the ability of Gloucestershire Constabulary to deal consistently and appropriately with victims of domestic abuse and to reduce the risk of harm to them. There are weaknesses in the way the constabulary deals with domestic abuse at the first point of contact and in the ability of the constabulary to provide an effective response to safeguarding victims in a consistent way. The service is fragmented because the systems in place are confusing. Specialist resources are stretched and the strong commitment to tackling domestic abuse within the constabulary's public protection bureau (PPB) is not replicated across the constabulary leadership as a whole. Given the scale of the areas for improvement, HMIC has concluded that swift action is needed by the constabulary to address the key risks identified in this report.''
In response, Assistant Chief Constable of Operations, Richard Berry, says: ''This report captures a moment in time and does not reflect the changes we have already made. Work has been underway for many months into how we deal with domestic abuse, including reviewing the frontline service we offer to victims. Through our Public Protection Bureau we work closely with other agencies on a number of issues, including domestic abuse, to ensure victims are put at the heart of everything we do. Our aim is to transfer this best practice and ingrain it in all officers' mainstream work.
''Whilst this report is critical of the Constabulary in a number of areas, I would like to point out that we were praised for our strong links with partnership agencies, particularly through the work done in the Public Protection Bureau. I would also like to take this opportunity to reassure the public that we are committed to keeping people in Gloucestershire safe from harm.''