Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
Group opposed to domestic violence paperwork change
A SWINDON domestic abuse charity has criticised a police trial which aims to cut red tape by giving officers discretion to not fill out a risk assessment form at every incident.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is conducting a trial with Hampshire Police that lets officers decide whether to complete a Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour-based-violence (DASH) form after assessing and investigating a domestic incident.
The move is said to be an attempt to cut bureaucracy for front line police officers, but domestic violence campaigners have said it could put victims at risk, as the assessments are important for building up a full picture of any potential abuse.
But Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse director Frank Mullane – whose sister, Julia Pemberton, and her son, Will, were murdered by her estranged husband in 2003 – said he would not want to see the scheme brought into Wiltshire.
He said: “The domestic violence movement has spent 20 years getting to a reasonable go at risk assessing. The proposal to give officers the choice of whether to undertake a formal risk assessment risks undoing some of that.
“Faced with a choice in an often pressurised environment, some officers will choose not to complete a proper risk assessment when they should have done.
“In cases where there is a series of incidents, none of which stand out as high risk, it is the view of the pattern and escalation that is critical.
“If this proposal undermines the process that builds that picture, it will contradict plans by Government to redefine domestic violence, to include recognition of patterns of abuse, including coercive control.
“We should expect police forces to bring the appropriate amount of sophisticated analysis to deciding where the cuts will fall. “I support sensible, continuous improvement that does not put vulnerable people at risk and I think this proposal has the potential to do that.”
The ACPO lead on reducing bureaucracy, Chief Constable Chris Sims, said: “The police service is committed to protecting victims of domestic abuse and bringing offenders to justice, so we are always looking for new ways to improve our response.
“This trial puts the emphasis on officers listening, understanding, assessing and making proportionate decisions, rather than filling in forms. “The police service responds to lots of domestic calls. We need to empower our frontline officers to use their skills and professional judgement to comprehensively investigate and decide how to respond.”
Diana Barran, chief executive of national charity Coordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse, said: “We are gravely concerned that, if implemented nationally, ACPO’s proposals will have a serious impact on the safety of domestic abuse victims across England and Wales.”