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Call handler quick reference guide - domestic abuse

Authorised Professional Practice

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This page is from APP, the official source of professional practice for policing.

First published
Written by College of Policing
Major investigation and public protection
4 mins read

Ensure immediate safety

  • Prioritise safety of the victim and children.
  • Identify if any immediate risk or time constraints.
  • Identify if any parties in need of immediate medical assistance and request if required.
  • Give safety, first aid or other appropriate advice.
  • If suspect still present at the scene, keep caller on the line so background noise is recorded.
  • If suspect has left the scene, keep caller on the line, advise to secure premises, and agree key word to signify return of suspect.
  • If call is cut off, urgently reassess call grading.
  • Remember to keep the caller informed of dispatch and arrival at the scene.

Gather information from the caller

Confirm details throughout and seek clarification if unclear.

Obtain standard details of incident and parties involved. In addition, you should ask if:

  • there are any children or vulnerable adults normally resident at the address living in the household and if they are safe
  • there is any history of domestic abuse and if so, whether there has been a previous referral to MARAC
  • any weapons have been used or are available to the suspect
  • anyone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • any party has communication difficulties or special needs
  • any court orders or bail conditions apply

Obtain a description of the suspect.

Record the caller’s account verbatim, along with details of demeanour of the caller and any background noise.

See also Checklist: Information gathering.

Equip the attending officer with information

Officers need to know about all information relevant to risk assessment. They also need to know anything which can help them to better understand the incident and the context.

You should make the appropriate background checks for previous domestic abuse history and other risk-related information:

  • IT and/or paper-based systems – PNC, PND, ViSOR
  • check for markers or alerts, including MARAC flag
  • previous risk assessments
  • bail conditions and civil or criminal court orders
  • child protection information

Provide details to the officer of:

  • any children or vulnerable adults present or normally resident at the address
  • any communication difficulties or special needs
  • results of background checks
  • any factors affecting nature of response, for example, injury, weapons (especially firearms), drugs or alcohol
  • description of the suspect
  • incident exactly as described by caller

If the suspect is believed to have left the local area, this should be specifically flagged to the officer so that contact can be established and appropriate information exchanged with relevant police forces to ensure victim safety.

See also Checklist: Details to be provided to the attending officer.

All CAD entries must be closed with a reference number. They should not be closed until contact has been made with the victim and a risk assessment carried out.

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