A national report into police handling of domestic abuse cases has highlighted the Herts force as having ‘an excellent understanding’ of the crime, but notes 10 areas that could be improved.
The findings, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, praised the county’s police for its good practice while making a series of recommendations, including changing documents and terminology from domestic violence to domestic abuse, to cover the whole spectrum of issues involved.
The national results painted a poor picture for domestic abuse victims, who it says are ‘let down’ by UK forces as a whole. A summary from the Inspectorate identifies domestic abuse handling as ‘a poor relation’ to other policing activity in the country generally.
Herts’ own report, published today, shows it is recognised for treating high risk victims very well and giving the crime the seriousness it deserves.
The county’s police and crime commissioner David Lloyd said: “Ensuring domestic abuse is at the top of the agenda is something I have asked Hertfordshire Constabulary to do and I am pleased to say that the force is doing some really excellent work, particularly in creating systems for identifying domestic abuse at the first opportunity, specialist training for officers and partnership working.
“HMIC’s report recognises this but highlights some areas for improvement. I am confident that the force is already making strides in these areas.
“Certainly, as far as the national picture goes, Hertfordshire is in a good position and I believe that anyone in the county who finds themselves in an abusive relationship can report it in confidence, whether directly to police or through an independent third party, and get the help and support they desperately need. However, it is important that we continue to look for new ways to protect vulnerable people and provide victims with support.”
The county recorded 3,737 domestic abuse-related crimes for the year to the end of August 2013.
Of these, 28 per cent resulted in a charge, a fifth ended with a caution and less than one per cent had an out of court disposal, for example, a fixed penalty notice for disorderly conduct.
In the same period domestic abuse accounted for seven per cent of all calls to the police for assistance – none of which were from repeat victims – and seven per cent of all recorded crime in the county.
The force also recorded 3,875 assaults with injury, of which 1,448 were domestic abuse-related.