Police get new national guidance on handling domestic abuse​

New guidance focuses on risk assessment and the pattern behind individual incidents.

​Police in England and Wales have been issued with new guidance on domestic abuse which includes advice to officers on how to proceed in cases where a victim chooses not to support a prosecution.

The Authorised Professional Practice (APP), released by the College of Policing on 21 September, goes into detail about spotting patterns of abuse and seeing the bigger picture behind individual calls to the police.  

For the first time the guidance includes a direct reference to senior officers’ responsibilities to maintain a body of specialist officers to deal with cases of abuse.

The APP emphasises the importance of evidence-led prosecutions and removes the emphasis away from requiring victims to build a case. The dynamics of coercive control, a new offence expected to come into force later this year, are also included. Unlike previous guidance, it includes a section aimed primarily at supporting first responders to an incident who must deal with criminal offences, conduct a risk assessment and safeguard the victim.

The College has also released a toolkit to support first responders, along with checklists for call handlers and front counter staff when contacted about domestic abuse.

College of Policing lead for crime and criminal justice, David Tucker, said:

“Domestic abuse is a pervasive problem across the UK and many officers do exemplary work in safeguarding victims and bringing offenders to justice.

“Tackling a domestic abuse case successfully depends on officers being properly trained and having access to information about both the victim and the perpetrator; accurate risk assessment and effective risk management, partnership working and information sharing. The failure of any of these links can be the difference between life and death for a victim.

“Officers need to investigate domestic abuse proactively and our APP and toolkits, as well as our training programmes and research, are designed to help them do that.”

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