Victims need more support
VICTIMS of domestic abuse in Wiltshire and Swindon are not getting enough support from the police, according to a report published today.
The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary highlighted improvements needed in staffing issues and communication between teams .
But attitudes towards tackling the problem were commended.
The inspection found domestic abuse accounts for eight per cent of all recorded crime in Wiltshire, and for every 100 offences recorded 82 arrests were made.
While robust progress has been made during the pilots of two new domestic abuse schemes in the county, concerns were raised that there was little opportunity for officers to check on the welfare of victims in standard risk cases.
Repeat victims are often not identified in the first instance, and neighbourhood policing teams are usually not informed of offenders living in their area.
Dru Sharpling, the HM Inspector of Constabulary for Wales and the West, said: “Although HMIC found effective work being done to tackle domestic abuse, there are several areas of improvement before the public can have confidence that Wiltshire Police is providing a consistently good service.
“Officers and staff recognise the importance of dealing with domestic abuse properly but need training to understand elements of abuse other than physical assault, for example coercive and controlling behaviour.
“High risk cases receive a great deal of scrutiny but this is not the case for incidents assessed as standard risk.
“The increasing workload for staff in specialist teams means there is little opportunity for reviewing risk levels and checking on victim’s welfare as often as staff would like.
“The force has recognised a number of areas where improvement is needed and is working to deliver these.”
Superintendent Andrew Carr, the chief of Swindon Police, said: “Despite positive work around domestic abuse within Wiltshire in recent years, we recognise that there are still ways we can improve within this area.
“All of our front line officers are trained to recognise signs and to deal with the issues surrounding domestic abuse.
“The increased workload is around confidence in reporting and heightened awareness of domestic abuse, and we deal with that with the resources we have.
“The long term work is difficult because we are uniformed and we do not want to put the victim at risk by making contact in difficult circumstances.
“Wiltshire Police will seek to positively respond to the recommendations set out within the HMIC report.”
Angus Macpherson, the police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: “It is disappointing the HMIC team did not engage with my office in the preparation of the report.
“Several of the HMIC recommendations were set out in my Police And Crime Plan. There is investment, both capital and revenue, planned and allocated.”