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Examination of Witness

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 29th October 2019.

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Zoe Billingham:

When we inspect across domestic abuse, we try to take a whole-system approach, in so far as it relates to policing. We look at a whole range of measures all the way across; where we see drops in areas of performance, we are concerned.

Starting with the moment a call comes into a control room, if we see that forces are not attending to domestic abuse incidents as quickly as they should, that is warning flag No. 1. Warning flag No. 2 is when the responding officers who attend those incidents tend to arrest less. All forces have a policy of positive action, but the number of times that an alleged perpetrator of domestic abuse is arrested varies between 80% in some forces and 30% in others, and that variation worries us. Warning flag no. 3 is when too many cases are being discontinued post-arrest on the basis that the victim does not support police action. Nearly 50% of domestic abuse cases are discontinued on that basis, and that worries us. We see variance among forces in all parts of that whole-system approach, and the orders are one part of that system in which we see that variance.

As an inspectorate, we would like to see less variance and greater consistency, because a victim of domestic abuse in Cumbria is self-evidently entitled to the same level of police service as a victim in Camden. We set that as our expectation—rightly so, I think.