West Yorkshire police under fire for not giving domestic violence ‘a high priority status’

By Alex Rhodes

Domestic violence

West Yorkshire Police have been criticised for the their handling of domestic abuse cases

A police watchdog has released a damning report about the way West Yorkshire Police respond to cases of domestic abuse.

The report found officers were failing to give some complaints about violence against partners enough attention.

Only 35 per cent of the 10,690 reports of domestic abuse-related crimes led to arrests in the 12 months to the end of August 2013.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) reported “a general view among staff at West Yorkshire Police that they (victims of domestic abuse) are not given as high a priority status by the force as some other crimes such as burglary.”

Domestic abuse makes up seven per cent of all calls to police in West Yorkshire and of these 35 per cent are calls from repeat victims.

The report said: “The force cannot be confident that victims are getting the quality of service they need from the police in all cases. They are dealing only with a relatively small proportion of the total number of victims.”

However West Yorkshire Police were praised by the report when it came to dealing with children. “While attending scenes of domestic abuse officers, would take great care to consider any children involved including not only those at the house but others who may be staying elsewhere.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson, responded today to the report’s findings.

He said: “As this report shows, more needs to be done, especially around training of staff and consistencies across the force in dealing with reports and complaints. This is one my highest priorities and I will be working with the Chief Constable and partners to look at the measures currently in place and what more needs to be done to ensure those victims suffering know they are being supported.”

Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson vowed to "continue to monitor progress against the HMIC recommendations"

Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson vowed to “continue to monitor progress against the HMIC recommendations”

The Commissioner had already made an extra £1 million available for working on improving the way police with domestic abuse for the next two years and added finally: “I want to reassure domestic abuse and violence victims they will be listened to, supported and action will be taken to ensure they are safe and feel safe.”

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police, assistant chief constable, Geoff Dodd said: “West Yorkshire Police takes Domestic Abuse, in all its forms, very seriously. We recognise that there is more that we can do to deal with this blight on individuals and families. People should feel safe in their own homes, and West Yorkshire Police accepts that it can do more to ensure that every victim of domestic abuse receives the same professional service and care they need.”

These revelations come just a few weeks after the nationwide introduction of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme. The scheme is better known as ‘Clare’s Law’, named after the domestic abuse victim Clare Wood died at the hands of her ex-boyfriend in Salford at her home in Salford in 2009. It enables people to find out if their partner has a history of domestic violence.

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