‘Urgent action’ needed to stop Bedfordshire Police failing domestic abuse victims, report finds

The Co Op store on the High Street in Stotfold was broken into in the early hours of today (March 28

The Co Op store on the High Street in Stotfold was broken into in the early hours of today (March 28) - Credit: Archant

“Urgent action” is needed to stop victims of domestic abuse being failed by a police force, according to a report out today (Thursday).


- Credit: Archant

Bedfordshire Police were one of four police forces from around the UK singled out in the findings by the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report, which stated that there were “serious failings” in their response to domestic violence cases.

The report said: “There are serious failings in the way Bedfordshire Police responds to victims of domestic abuse. Urgent action is needed to improve the way in which the force acts to keep victims of domestic abuse safe.

“HMIC’s principal concern is the force’s inability to provide a consistently effective response to safeguarding victims. The service the force provides to victims is highly fragmented and potentially dangerous as victims who should be identified and protected by the force may not be.”

Despite recording 2,868 domestic abuses cases and accounting for 8% of all crime Bedfordshire Police had only one dedicated domestic violence officer.

Chief constable Paul Collete said: “Following the inspection it was clear things were nowhere near as good as they should be when it comes to dealing with victims of domestic abuse. Since then we have worked even harder to improve the service we provide and we are committed to making safeguarding those affected by this crime the number one priority.

“The number of officers working on the assessment of victim’s vulnerability has been increased and there is now also greater scrutiny.

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“We all know that this type of offence is one that is traditionally under-reported for a whole variety of societal reasons. However we have seen an increase in reporting of domestic abuse, which is very encouraging.

“I want to give confidence to victims to carry on reporting abuse so that we can focus on looking after them and putting the abuser behind bars.”

The report concluded that Hertfordshire Constabulary takes domestic violence cases “very seriosuy”, though it did highlight issues such as not using specifically trained staff to deal with domestic abuse.

It stated: “Staff throughout the organisation take their role in keeping victims and their children safe very seriously. Victims who are assessed as high risk (of serious harm or murder) receive support and safety planning from specialist officers.

“However, there is a disjointed approach to victim care and contact for medium and standard risk cases. This means that these victims may not get the level of service from police that they need and the risk posed to them may be missed.”

Detective chief inspector Clare Smith,from the Harm Reduction Unit, said: “Although we have been recognised for areas of good work when dealing with domestic abuse, we must not be complacent. There is always scope for improvement, particularly as we believe this is an under- reported crime and we need to encourage more victims to come forward to report this despicable crime.

“The overall care provided to those victims deemed at ‘high’ risk was recognised as good practice by the HMIC and following this report all victims classed as ‘medium’ risk are reviewed daily in our Harm Reduction Unit to ensure appropriate risk assessment are taking place. Further work scrutinising low risk cases is also taking place through dip sampling.”

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