VICTIMS of domestic abuse are being let down by Gloucestershire Constabulary’s inability to deal ‘consistently and appropriately’ with the crime, according a damning report.
Significant ‘weaknesses and inconsistencies’ were highlighted in the findings, published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, which has ordered ‘swift action’ to deal with the issues raised.
The report criticises the force’s ability to deal appropriately with victims from the first point of contact and adds that not enough is being done to ensure their protection from further abuse.
It said that out of a total of 1,012 recorded assaults, harassment and sexual offences related to domestic abuse in the 12 months to the end of August 2013, less than a quarter resulted in someone being charged.
Some control room staff were found to have not received even basic training on how to deal with domestic abuse calls, with a number of established call operators reporting no guidance at all in recent years.
It concludes with a raft of recommendations for improvement, including doing more to recognise those most at risk.
On a positive note, the report commends the constabulary’s work with partner agencies as a ‘real strength’ and praises the commitment of those in its Public Protection Bureau (PPB) but adds this high level of service is not replicated across the force as a whole.
Richard Berry from the constabulary said: “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 PPB 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 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 PPB.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to reassure the public that we are committed to keeping people in Gloucestershire safe from harm.”
All 43 constabularies in England and Wales were inspected, with Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire forces receiving the harshest criticism.