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Once Called, Twice Shy? Investigating victim’s viewpoints on the police response to domestic abuse

December 2015 1|Page


This report was commissioned by Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and produced by One Community. Published December 2015 Written by Kylie Barton Further copies of this report are available from www.1community.org.uk One Community 16 Romsey Road Eastleigh SO50 9AL Tel: 023 8090 2400 Email: info@1community.org.uk Registered Charity 1052978, Registered in England as a Company by guarantee 3132524 2|Page


Contents Section

Page

Acknowledgements

pp.4

Executive Summary

pp.5

Introduction

pp.6

Research Methods

pp.7

Literature Review

pp.8-14

Primary Research

pp.15-23

Mini Case Studies

pp.24

Conclusions

pp.25

Areas Requiring Further Research

pp.26

References

pp.27

Appendices

pp.28-30

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Acknowledgements A massive thank you to all of the services that helped give victims a voice in this short study. With such a small time frame it was a concern that it would be hard to find victims to share their experiences, but thanks to the positive reception of these organisations we gained access to 27 participants. Thank you too to the brave women who participated fully, making this project a great success. Each and every one of you is an inspiration, and we are grateful for your time and invaluable input.

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Executive Summary Background One Community was commissioned by the Hampshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) in 2014 to undertake a research project entitled Positive Steps which looked at what support provision there was for 11-18 year olds across the county who had experienced domestic abuse. Due to the success of this project One Community was again approached to do research on the same topic, to look into the police response to domestic abuse across the county, and as to whether the mandatory arrest approach that is currently in place is still relevant. The six week project consisted of a review of existing literature, 27 one-to-ones with victims from across the county, one focus group, and finally the analysis.

Existing Research Since the 1980s policies that encourage or mandate the arrest of offenders have become the norm. This is something that has been fiercely debated throughout all professions and it is still not clear whether it is an effective approach to take. The HMIC’s 2014 report ‘Everyone’s Business: Improving the Police Response to Domestic Abuse’ concluded that the police response is simply not good enough and although it has been a priority on paper it has not transpired in practice. Some academics such as Leisenring (2008) and Johnson and Goodlin-Fahncke (2015) suggest that the effect of prosecution is different depending on the demographic of the perpetrator. It is also found that the probability of reporting rises with each additional call, meaning that the first call and the initial response to that call was the most important as it was the one where the largest amount of victims could be reached, because they may not call back. Whether intimate partner violence (IPV) is a gendered phenomenon is also much debated according to Leisenring (2008). Dixon et al (2012) say that preconceived views on such elements allow ideology to supersede reality.

Findings The research found that although mandatory arrest is the protocol, it is not always followed, and it shouldn’t be. Domestic abuse is too much of a diverse crime for there to be a mandatory response, and it was found that policies around mandatory arrest for perpetrators of it need to change. Every story was so different, as was every experience of the police. There need to be minimum standards of levels of communication, as well as the demeanour in which the police approach the situation, but beyond these minimum standards the response must be individualised.

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Introduction ‘The prevention of domestic abuse has traditionally been a challenge for policy makers. The differing behaviours which constitute abuse create complexities which, arguably, the United Kingdom (UK) criminal justice system (CJS) is neither designed to recognise nor able to accommodate.’ (Rowland, J. 2013) There have been several academic studies in the past few years that have pointed to the failings of the current police response processes in place to tackle domestic abuse (DA) perpetrators. As stated by Rowland above, many believe that this is down to the pro-prosecution approach being unable to respond to the complex nature of the crime, and therefore it is the approach that needs to be looked at for reconsideration. In an era of severe police cut backs, and numbers of officers resultantly reducing, there is a need to assess processes to ensure that victims are getting the best possible outcome in the most cost effective manner. Statistics giving high attrition rates suggest that the pro-prosecution approach is not effective, with questions over the value or quality of perpetrator programmes which act as a kind of therapy, rehabilitation, and pattern changing tool; there is a need to find a new way forward. The issue of domestic abuse has been a taboo for so long, with a number of police and public services historically turning a blind eye to ‘domestics’, the pendulum has, to some peoples mind, swung too far in the other direction, from ignoring to prosecuting with not much room left for innovation in between. Although assuredly positive that domestic abuse is now a crime that is indeed taken seriously, it may be seen as though we jumped straight in without giving much thought to the best remedy to prevent as well as punish. It has been widely acknowledged that it takes time for a domestic abuse victim to reach out for help, and we also know that victims are unlikely to leave their partner hastily. With this in mind, coupled with the high attrition rates, it seems as though sometimes the system actually stokes the fire rather than extinguishing it, with perpetrators re-entering the relationship; angered by the Crime Prosecution Service (CPS) process. The Home Office state that domestic abuse victims are the most likely to be serial victims of all crimes. Every victim’s trigger point is different. If that victim picks up the phone, and prosecution fails, are they likely to pick up again when faced with their partner returning? Unlikely. The rigorous pro-prosecution approach utilised across Great Britain cultivates recidivism. According to Women’s Aid, between 23 per cent and 35 per cent of incidents are reported to the police. Underreporting is a problem in many areas of crime, but with something as sensitive and complex as domestic abuse the amount that goes unreported is much higher. Women’s Aid also estimates that on average a victim is assaulted 35 times before they pick up the phone, and this is only looking at the physical side of domestic abuse. Even with a low report rate, domestic abuse already makes up around 16 per cent of all violent crime, meaning the real figure can be assumed to be much higher. This means that we need to look to build an inclusive approach to DA perpetration that does not mandate a single intervention, but instead looks to build a flexible, individualised and cooperative approach between all parties concerned to best serve the victim and wider society.

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Research Methods Overview This research was based on interviews with domestic abuse victims. Participants were identified through their involvement in support services such as refuge and outreach. Whilst they are not be a fully representative sample, they were reasonably spread across Hampshire and have reported domestic abuse in this area. Research question What do victims think about the current police response to domestic abuse? Aim The aim of the research project is to gauge opinions of victims regarding the police response currently used with domestic abuse cases. The project aims to ascertain what the response is, what victims welcome about current processes, and what it is they would like to see changed. Methodology Firstly the researcher will conduct a literature review to gain an understanding of the topic, and to provide an introduction to it in the report. This will be using academic literature, journals, and any relevant news items. The primary research will be of phenomenological design, that is a mix of quantitative and qualitative in method, with one to one semi-structured interviews with victims aged over 18 and who have contacted the police at least once formulating the main bulk of the primary research. Focus groups may also be used if these are more appropriate for the services involved in helping the researcher access the victims due to time scales. The victims will be provided with a questionnaire which will allow us to gather demographic data, as well as a few key questions such as the number of times the victim has called the police. The victim will then be interviewed by the researcher to answer the key questions of the project, and this interview will be typed up in real time. The interviews will also be audio recorded if the participant consents. Analysis The researcher will draw statistics from the questionnaires. The content of the type ups of the interviews will then be analysed for key points and common themes which will formulate the bulk of the report. Ethics All research undertaken in this project will be carried out following SRA ethical guidelines. Participant confidentiality will be ensured through anonymity and this will be expressed on the questionnaire and talked about prior to interviews beginning. The interviewer will also check the participant is happy to be recorded and state this will only be used to ensure that the participant is quoted correctly. Project outcomes: Interim findings by the 1st December 2015 and a final report to be completed by 11th December 2015 for use by the PCC.

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Literature Review Pro-prosecution and the police Domestic abuse (DA) constitutes 8 per cent of all crime (HMIC, 2014), and costs the country around 36.7 billion per annum (Marczak et al, 2011). Bland (2014) found that 58 per cent of DA calls are regarding incidents that are not presently criminal, thus a large demand on police time is dealing with incidents that are not crimes. It is a big problem for the police, for society, and of course for the tens of thousands of victims. The HMIC’s 2014 report ‘Everyone’s Business: Improving the Police Response to Domestic Abuse’ concluded that the police response is simply not good enough and although it has been a priority on paper it has not transpired in practice. In Hampshire 90 out of 100 DA reports result in arrest, 48 per cent are charged, 11 per cent cautioned, and 3 per cent receive out of court disposals. As domestic violence is often reactive and not premeditated, police visibility does not have an impact says Chicago, (2012). Chicago also states that police statistics surrounding DA are questionable with such high percentages of crimes going unreported.

One important reform [since the 1980s] has been the implementation of policies that encourage or mandate the arrest of offenders. However, mandatory arrest policies have been hotly debated by scholars, activists, and criminal justice system officials. [They] disagree about the effectiveness of such policies and the ultimate effects that they have on the lives of the women that they were designed to protect. (Leisenring, A. 2008) Government literature says that the Criminal Justice System’s (CJS) role is to ‘deliver punishment and prevent further offences’ (Rowland, 2013), but it appears the current system is focused on the former whilst abandoning the latter. Between 1997 and 2010 with the Labour government the main focus was to implement prevention, protection and justice interventions according to Matczak et al (2011) which included a focus on partnership working in the local community. Since 2010 and the change of government however there has been a shift back to gendered conceptions of DA interventions and thus a return to pro-prosecution preference. The responsibility for DA currently rests with the state, reinforcing that it is a public issue, but tying the hands of the police who are on the ground protecting the public to an approach which has questionable validity and worth for victims. The mandatory element further disempowers already debilitated women by removing any element of control they have over the process of their recovery (Leisenring, 2008). The mandatory arrest policy was first implemented as a result of the Sherman and Beck study of 1984 which initially showed a link between arrest and recidivism, however subsequent studies showed that in fact there was no statistically significant link; meaning policy makers made assumptions too quickly – and yet we are still left with the results today (Johnson and GoodlinFahncke, 2015). Leisenring (2008) said that mandatory arrest originally took off as a way to challenge police culture and get across the message that DA is serious. But now this message is firmly entrenched (even if not responded to correctly yet), isn’t it time to change to a more inclusive response? In Rowland’s (2013) study it was found that 22.7 per cent of cases resulted in conviction, of which only 5.4 per cent received custodial sentences, and a massive 53 per cent had no further action, which led to victims having little faith in the justice system. This, it could be argued, is a reason why reporting remains low, and why women are less likely to call back after the first call (Bland, 2014).

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Picking up the phone is a huge step for victims. HMIC says that call handlers are good at identifying DA at the call stage, and it is therefore important that there is a robust procedure in place to deal with these calls and ensure that all staff that are part of the response team are trained properly and have the appropriate suite of tools and powers. It is essential for police to remember that the first call, and first police contact, will most likely not be the victim’s first instance of DA. Charities such as Women’s Aid state that it can take over 30 incidents for a victim to pick up the phone. HMIC (2014) report on Hampshire said that 6 per cent of calls are DA related and 3 per cent are repeats. They constitute 30 per cent of all assaults with injury, 49 per cent of harassments, and 9 per cent of sexual reports. Something else to consider when thinking about call rates is that many victims could be averse to calling the police due to previous experiences, or other criminality in their life or the people surrounding them. Dugan (2003) says mandatory arrest could stop the number of cases entering the system due to this fear. If they or their partner have a drug problem for instance, or if poverty means they are doing something else illegal to get by, police presence will not be welcomed. This means that having the police as the main intervention partner within DA excludes the most vulnerable victims that are also victims/perpetrators/witnesses to other forms of crime. This reinforces the point that individual circumstance is of great importance when it comes to DA and that universal policy approaches do not work with such intricacies. Stith et al (2012) discuss ‘co-occurring substance abuse’ as an accelerant of abuse, and that in circumstances such as this DA is not best addressed in isolation as is current practice when in some instances the relationship between substance misuse and DA may even be causal. Johnson and Goodlin-Fahncke (2015) showed that those with limited arrest records are less likely to reoffend than those with extensive records.

‘Laws are built to deal with domestic abuse perpetrators progressively more aggressively’ (Dugan, 2003) Along with the move from inaction, to pro-arrest policies, there has been efforts within the court system to increase prosecution rates. This however, has been not very successful due to the poor evidence gathering of the police, and the police arresting to provide immediate protection to the victim whether there is adequate evidence for a prosecution or not (Rowland, 2013). This links to the HMIC point on ‘positive action’ being a confusing term for officers, and that positive action may mean a police officer fails to arrest when they should have, or visa-versa. This focus on prosecution is as ill-informed as the mandatory arrest mantra, as according to Rowland, there is little evidence to suggest that when prosecution is achieved it actually reduces re-offending. He goes as far as to say that the likelihood of offending actually increases when prosecuted. This may be because if the prosecution is unsuccessful the victim is less likely to have support interventions in place from other services due to the time and effort put into the court case. Some academics such as Leisenring (2008) and Johnson and Goodlin-Fahncke (2015) suggest that the effect of prosecution is different depending on the demographic of the perpetrator. External factors such as employment status, family background, and previous convictions can have an impact as to whether prosecution acts as a deterrent in the future. Prosecution is not universally effective and previous arrest history is too often unaccounted for by the prosecution with 46 per cent of perpetrators getting a no further action when it is not their first time (Rowland, 2013). Johnson and Goodlin-Fahncke (2015) found that recidivism increased for perpetrators who were generally violent, and antisocial.

‘Efficacy of arrest depends heavily on the perceived cost of detention to the perpetrator’ (Dugan, 2003) Rowland (2013) points out that treating DA as a criminal offence may actually mean resolutions are 9|Page


less effective. Because DA happens behind closed doors, and evidence usually comes down to witness testimony (which although better supported recently, is still an incredibly difficult process for DA victims), meaning that the ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ goal post cannot often be reached. In a civil case a verdict rests of the balance of probability which means there is more flexibility than the mandated approach of arrest in criminal cases. Civil courts are generally underutilised however, and if DA was not a crime, there would be a risk of fewer reports being brought forward. Matczak et al (2011) point out that DA is covered by numerous criminal and civil laws including family, child, assault, housing, human rights, and more. Some criminal laws that have been brought in however are viewed as purely punishment rather than victim centred, and the government even admits that current policy means that criminalisation is taking precedence over prevention. This is where initiatives such as specialist DA courts can really offer the victim the broad range of resolutions necessary to such an individualised issue with a combination of civil and criminal resolutions. Matczak et al (2011) also state that such policy diversification can lead to victims being overlooked and insufficiently protected because of the patchwork nature of the policy.

As Gelles (1993) argues, some women who do not wish their abuser to be arrested use their call to the police and/or the resulting police visit as a means of controlling their abuser’s behaviour. Because mandatory arrest policies remove this option from women, some have argued that they also remove power from abused women. And, as Rajah et al. (2006) point out, some see the removal of control from female victims as particularly problematic because ‘women who are denied decision-making power in mandatory arrest encounters may be dissatisfied with the criminal justice response to intimate partner violence and discouraged from calling the police in future domestic disputes’ (Leisenring, A. 2008) Violence towards women is still viewed as a special case, unrelated to other forms of physically violent crime according to Dixon et al (2012). This is why probation run programmes to do with anger management and other related topics are closed to DA perpetrators, because it is believed that DA perpetrators need some form of re-education about gender role expectations which goes beyond simple behaviour alteration to cultural change. As there is no agreed upon model, providers should look to other intervention programmes in other areas that aren’t specifically designed for DA to find something that works (Dixon and Graham-Kevan, 2011). Dixon et al continue to point out DA charities such as Relate state that society claims that men are generally more aggressive, towards other men for instance, and that this spills over into the home environment. This is at the same time as continuing to claim DA is different and requires different resolutions to male on male non-DA violence. This is very contradictory and very confusing. Yet Stith et al (2012) found that higher attendance in any programme is shown to result in less recidivism, and the pre-to-post readiness to change was significant as well as likelihood to accept responsibility. Contrary to popular opinion among victim charities, Bland’s 2014 study found that escalation theory may not be quite right. The study found no statistically significant evidence for the escalation of severity among over 700 cases. The probability of reporting rose with each additional call, meaning that the first call was the most important as it was the one where the largest amount of victims could be reached as they may not call back. This study however was based upon the Cambridge Crime Harm Index which looks at public opinion, financial cost, and the sentence given. It does not look at the experience of the victim, the person to whom the harm was caused, and so this study too is lacking.

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Women, and female perpetration One large question that keeps arising in this field is the place of patriarchy, feminism, and the female perpetrator. Whether intimate partner violence (IPV) is a gendered phenomenon is widley debated according to Leisenring (2008). Dixon et al (2012) say that preconceived views on such elements allow ideological frameworks to supersede evidence based lenses.

‘The central dogma of patriarchal motivation is adhered to by researchers’ (Dixon, et al, 2012) Leisenring (2008) says that DA was first recognised as a serious social concern rooted in sexism, oppression, and patriarchy in the sixties and seventies as part of a growing feminist movement. DAIP said that opponents of this feminist analysis say women are as violent and that this mutual violence means there is a need for arrest and prosecution policies to change to reflect this. With evidence still heavily suggesting that women experience domestic abuse more than men and are more susceptible to death or serious injury (DAIP), it is understandable that this feminist framework is still at the forefront, and sits most comfortably with those working in the field. However what is more noteworthy is that we must strive to know the reasons why it exists, patriarchy or otherwise, to be able to formulate the best interventions for the victim; male or female. Dixon et al state, it is not enough to know that a person has hit another, we need to know why they decided to hit them, to understand the function of that action – is it fear of abandonment? Poor emotional management? So if it is not patriarchy as so commonly assumed what else could it be? Gender is a risk factor (Dixon et al, 2012) but there are others too, and to find them we need to explore the function for the individual perpetrating the abuse – what do they get out of it. This is the key to rehabilitation and reduced recidivism. Women are still more afraid of men, and according to DAIP 85 per cent of men said they were not afraid when their female partner initiated violence. The patriarchal paradigm is challenged when samples in studies are broadened beyond the commonly used crime perpetrators and shelter users according to Stith et al (2012) who states that gender asymmetry is seen when looking at arrest rates and shelter seeking rates but when the demographic is broadened to be more representative of the wider community perpetration and victimisation appears to be more gender symmetrical than first thought. Stith et al suggest that violence can often be reciprocal, but one must again note that here only the physical element of DA is being looked at. Would this symmetry still be the case if we were to take coercive control, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse into account? DAIP says that men and women use violence in different ways; domestic abuse is not gender neutral, and to suggest it may have dangerous implications. There seems to be a lack of research in this area. The issue of women as perpetrators is one that is gaining more credence with researchers. Dixon et al state that it can be hard to tell who initiates, retaliates, resists, or defends. A study by Capaldi et al found that female initiation appears to be most common among 18-25 year olds. Dixon and Graham-Kevan (2011) say that patriarchy is still one potential factor, but that gender inclusive paradigms help us to understand mutual violence better, such as power theory; social learning theory; personality theory; and nested-ecological theory. They also state that contextual elements must be taken into consideration, such as the role of the couple, and how the couple are in their normal environment. Separate risk assessment is often necessary for the victim to be open and honest about their situation, but observation as a couple could also provide some useful information to help provide further support. Dixon and Graham-Kevan (2011) state that understanding the attachment style of the couple can be useful, and a general analysis of the relationship can help ascertain who is the victim or the perpetrator of if in fact both parties fulfil both roles at different points. This sits with Johnson’s four analogies of Inter-personal Violence (IPV) typologies and his research on common couple violence (1999) which we explore more below. The DAIP says that if mandatory arrest is no longer used, dual arrest is more likely (victim and perpetrator) which is ineffective and makes the victim less likely to pick up the phone a second time. 11 | P a g e


Arrest is often not favoured by female victims of DA because their foremost concerns are their immediate financial well-being especially if there are children in the home. This is another area where the lack of understanding on all the components of DA creates a barrier to effective intervention, as where there is violence, there are often elements of financial abuse, and coercive control which can include monetary control. Without the perpetrator, a women may be left without access to bank accounts or funds, and therefore unable to pay bills or put food on the table – this fear is bigger than the fear of future violence and abuse which has become normalised to them in many cases. Andrews and Miller (2013) state that the more women police there are, the more arrests there are likely to be, suggesting that male officers still do not understand the issues fully or respect DA as a serious issue. Representative Bureaucratic Theory says that organisations are more responsive to the public if the demographic of personnel reflects that of the community they serve (Andrews and Miller, 2013).

‘There needs to be an active representation on behalf of women’s interest at the bureaucratic level. Especially in a gendered policy area such as domestic abuse’ (Andrews and Miller, 2013)

Perpetrator programmes and other resolution methods ‘What is clear is that domestic abuse is diverse. The latest iteration of the Home Office definition is necessarily broad, and recognises a much wider range of behaviours that can constitute abuse and control than previously. It is this same diversity, however, that necessitates the urgent understanding of domestic abuse in its micro form rather than as an all-encompassing term, because the characteristics of a case of long term systematic controlling abuse are very different to those of a case of ‘one-off’ violence.’ (Rowland, J. 2013) These differing behaviours that make up domestic abuse are currently not accounted for in the system which is one of the reasons we see such a high attrition rate with domestic abuse cases. This attrition rate has an erosion effect on the level of deterrent impact. As stated by Chicago (2012), to be economically viable law enforcement activity must be a deterrent. Most studies (and ergo most laws) fail to address the different types of DA (such as coercive control which is soon to be incorporated into law) (Leisenring, 2008). Johnson (2006) identified four types of intimate partner violence (IPV): situational couple violence, violent resistance, intimate terrorism, and mutual violent control. When considering the best intervention for perpetrators we must consider how to gain insight into the behavioural causes, according to Rowland (2013), to be able to prevent abuse not merely react to it. Rowland suggests that this blind commitment to prosecution within domestic abuse cases means that the use of alternative resolutions such as out of court disposals and other discretionary methods such as DA protection orders, and DA protection notices (Matczak, 2011) is restricted when in fact they may be in the victim’s best interest. There are alternatives to the mandatory arrest policy. Project Cara (a pilot project in Hampshire) looked to use conditional cautions and perpetrator workshops with domestic abuse perpetrators. Voluntary DA programmes and those attached as a condition to a caution as in project Cara also reduce repeat offending according to Sherman (2014) by up to 46 per cent which translates into a 25 per cent total cost saving compared to the costs of CJS options. In the year pilot of the project where there were two groups, one with conditional cautions alone and one with conditional caution with a perpetrator workshop, 18 per cent of those who did not go to the workshop reoffended whereas only 11 per cent of those who did attend reoffended. This is promising, but not that

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statistically significant or conclusive as to which form of intervention works best. This may be because as previously mentioned, there is no ‘one size fits all’ universal answer to DA. Restorative justice (RJ) is also growing in popularity due to the prevalence of shaming theory, but for domestic abuse, the use of this method is deeply divided due to the risk of re-traumatisation or revictimisation stemming from the inherent power imbalance in DA relationships (Rowland, 2013). RJ methods are more cost effective than prosecution and can provide more sustainable outcomes, but there is not enough evidence to show that this will be the case with domestic abuse as yet. Stith et al (2012) discussed Mills (2008) principles of RJ and the Circles of Peace model which is an alternative to traditional perpetrator programmes, more along the lines of RJ. It still includes conferences between the victim and the offender but invites family and friends to form part of the circle of support. There is a community volunteer ‘Circle Keeper’ who is specially trained in DA and safeguarding to ensure the ‘applicant’ (perpetrator) and the ‘participant’ (victim) are ok at all times. There is also a safety monitor who carries out this function and gets all participants to sign a social contract – initial results of trials of this method show significantly fewer arrests are made subsequently. However the HMIC states that their current position (January 2014) is that RJ in its usual form is not appropriate in DA cases. They also state that neighbourhood policing teams could be used better to provide support. The Duluth Model comes from a community in Minnesota which has innovated a community approach to DA to help take the blame away from the victim and onto the offender, and given the community responsibility in stopping such crimes. The model advocates multi-agency sharing of best practice and puts the victim’s voice at the centre of all. The model has come up against some criticism (often founded on replica models that had cherry picked elements), but is providing a more sustainable model of perpetrator intervention and victim resolution. 60 percent of the women felt better with the perpetrator attending a class according to the DAIP report, and 80 per cent said a combination response between the police, courts, Duluth, and a shelter was useful. The programme found that lower level offenders were less likely to recidivate after taking part.

Discussion and concluding thoughts One thing to note from the literature is that when looking at police response, the topic is discussed as interpersonal violence (IPV) or domestic violence (DV) and not often as domestic abuse (DA) which has become the preferred term in the wider discourse of late as it reflects the non-physical elements of abuse. Inconsistent findings, effects, and impacts are in part due to the inconsistent terminology used, and the definitions that are worked to. Domestic abuse, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, etc. all carry different connotations of what is afoot and which elements of DA are included in the definition. This is where uniformity would be useful. Therefore there is also a question to be asked as to whether if the physical violence element is often reciprocal for reasons of self-defence or otherwise, if the sexual, coercive, and emotional elements are too gender symmetrical. As there is little research in this area, we must be careful not to generalise, but from the reading conducted in this review it would appear that the physical reciprocation of the female may be due to a wider pattern of abuse. This does not mean that the female is not perpetrating a crime, but it does however mean we are still not addressing DA fully, as much research shows that in male perpetrated abuse, the physical rarely comes without elements of emotional coercive control which is why the issue has come to gain this ‘special’ status among services. As with the move toward prevention, there must be a shift to look at motivations for violence and abuse. The victim’s motivations may be reactionary, and the perpetrators motivations may be more complex, routed in mental health issues, stemming from childhood difficulties, or, as a form of patriarchal control as the historic literature suggests. Stith et al (2012) say that resultant mental health issues for women are often internalised, and men externalise, which makes intervention more 13 | P a g e


difficult. The HMIC report on Hampshire found that there are processes in place for health professionals to assist in reporting, but that this is not yet standard practice. In the Positive Steps (2014) report conducted by One Community for the OPCC, it was found that health professionals were often the ones missing from the table in multi-agency meetings, and this is something that still needs to be addressed. With increasing pressure to see other crimes (such as drug usage) as issues for the rectification of the health sector and the wider community, should domestic abuse be viewed in this way too? It is known that both victims and perpetrators are likely to have been a recipient of, or exposed to, some form of abuse in childhood, and that their resultant situation in adulthood is, in part, attributable to this through behaviour replication and normalisation of abuse. Matczak et al (2011) say that DA has been long regarded as a public health issue, but unfortunately this belief has not been translated into action. The World Health organisation (WHO) says that DA is very much a public health problem, and that to tackle it we need to ensure primary (awareness raising campaigns through the media), secondary (targeted to those known to be at risk), and tertiary (for those who have already experienced) prevention measures are in place. There is also much more to be done in terms of early prevention through improved education around healthy relationships and norms and boundaries. In the literature review it was raised several times that the police do not have the resources to prevent at the same time as protect immediately high risk victims. It therefore seems logical that other public services look to what they can do in terms of prevention work. Whether we take the gendered perspective or not, DA can come from cultural elements, or mental health issues – the nurture side, and it is here that schools and wider society can pre-emptively combat the attitudes and behaviours that are linked with DA. Although there are many community remedies to be considered it must be remembered, according to Matczak et al (2011), that the police are still the primary agency for protecting the public and preventing crime. But is this in fact the case when we see police numbers being cut so drastically? There is very much a need to provide the police with extra support so that the same level of protection can be implemented from a number of sources in the era of austerity. As Bland (2014) states, the police cannot currently fund protection of the highest risk and prevention too. So change is needed.

KEY POINTS High attrition rates mean the deterrent effect of arrest is diluted ~ Police as the main intervention partner means some of the most vulnerable are missed ~ Current processes do not reflect the individualised nature of DA ~ Those perpetrators with extensive offending records are most likely to reoffend so arrest as a deterrent is not effective ~ Mix of civil and criminal most appropriate for victims ~ Must look to link with other relevant interventions such as those offered by probation ~ Move away from the gendered notion, it is a risk factor but there are others to consider ~ More research needed as to whether women perpetrate coercive control, emotional and financial DA ~ There is a need to understand all these components to intervene effectively ~ Perpetrator programmes can work but, as with arrest, no one approach can solve all – combination approaches work best ~ Consider RJ approaches

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Primary Research Questionnaires Full blank copy of the questionnaire in Appendix 1

In total we had 27 participants, spread across the county in Southampton, Eastleigh, Havant, and Basingstoke. Gender: 27 female, 1 male Ethnicity: 20 White, 4 Asian, 2 Black, 1 Other Religion: 2 Sikh, 9 Christian, 1 Buddhist, 11 none, 2 Muslim, 2 other

Disability: 20 no, 6 yes, 1 prefer not to say Age range: 18-70 Marital Status: 10 separated, 10 single, 2 divorced, 4 in a relationship, 1 married Still experiencing abuse: 4 yes, 22 no, 1 prefer not to say

WOULD YOU CALL THE POLICE AGAIN? Yes

No

NUMBER OF CALLS TO THE POLICE One

PNTS

Two or Three

Three to Five

Five Plus

7% 22% 33% 30%

22%

63%

22%

HOW SATISFIED ARE YOU WITH THE POLICE RESPONSE? Low Satisfaction (1-3)

Satisfied (4-7)

30%

Very Satisfied (8-10)

33%

37%

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Demographic data of participants Referred to as

1

1

Hettie

2

Maggie

3

Janet

4

Tina

5

Frankie

6

Rachel

7

Claire

8

Helen

9

Liz

10

Damien

11

Nia

12

Leanne

13

Pippa

14

Avril

15

Alice

16

Fi

17

Mel

18

Jade

19

Irene

20

Patricia

21

Sally

22

Charlie

23

Trish

24

Holly

25

Lily

26

Clara

27

Bethany

Age 3040 60 3040 3040 2430 3040 3040 2430 4050 2430 2430 2430 2420 3040 3040 2430 2430 1824 50+ 4050 3040 2430 3040 2430 2430 2430 4050

Gender

Ethnicity

Religion

Disability

Marital Status

Children

Still Experiencing Abuse?

No. of calls to the police

Would they call again?

Satisfaction level1

Female

Asian

Sikh

No

Separated

0

No

1

No

1

Female

White

Christian

Yes

Single

1

No

2/3

Yes

10

Female

White

None

No

Separated

3

Yes

3/5

Yes

5

Female

Asian

Buddhist

No

Divorced

1

No

3/5

Yes

6

Female

Black

Christian

No

Separated

2

Yes

5+

Yes

9

Female

White

None

Yes

Single

1

No

5+

No

3

Female

White

Christian

No

Separated

3

No

3/5

Yes

10

Female

Asian

Muslim

No

Separated

0

No

1

Yes

4

Female

White

Other

Yes

Separated

2

No

3/5

Yes

5

Male

White

Other

No

Single

0

No

2/3

Yes

2

Female

White

Christian

Yes

3

No

3-5

Yes

7

Female

White

None

No

1

No

1

No

4

Female

White

Christian

PNTS

Married

2

PNTS

2/3

Yes

5

Female

Other

Sikh

Yes

Divorced

0

Yes

5+

No

2

Female

White

None

No

Separated

3

No

1

Yes

10

Female

White

None

No

0

No

1

Yes

8

Female

White

None

No

0

Yes

1

No

3

Female

White

None

No

Single

3

No

5+

Yes

8

Female

White

None

No

Single

0

No

1

PNTS

5

Female

Black

Christian

No

Separated

4

No

2/3

Yes

10

Female

Asian

Muslim

No

Separated

4

No

1

PNTS

10

Female

White

None

No

Single

2

No

5+

Yes

3

Female

White

Christian

No

Single

3

No

2/3

No

1

Female

White

Christian

No

Single

3

No

2/3

No

2

Female

White

None

No

Single

2

No

5+

Yes

5

Female

White

None

Yes

Single

0

No

1

No

1

Female

White

Christian

No

Separated

1

No

3/5

Yes

6

In a relationship In a relationship

In a relationship In a relationship

1 being not satisfied and 10 being very satisfied

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Main themes from the interviews Full copy of the questions asked in Appendix 2. Each interview was so different, and every participant had a very different experience from the next. In this section, the main themes have been pulled out of the interviews, looking at what is being done well, what is being done badly, and what can be done better in the future, in terms of the police response towards domestic abuse. One interesting thing to note is that it transpired during discussions that women who said they were no longer being abused, were in fact still being harassed. This shows there is still not a full understanding of abuse, even for the women who have sought help with domestic abuse organisations. Arrest and the alternatives

15 out of 27 thought that arrest is a useful tool in domestic abuse cases. 12 out of 27 thought arrest was not useful. Many of those said that something to get the perpetrator away is what is needed, whether that be arrest or something else. A number of the Asian participants were wary of arrest as a method. Hettie said that it made her perpetrator more aggressive, and turned her family against her because in her culture it is a worse sin to break the vows of marriage than it is for a man to beat his wife. Some victims were told that the police had to arrest, some asked what the victim wanted, and some said there was no point in arresting. So despite the official line being mandatory arrest, this is not the case on the ground. Maggie said she was extremely grateful to the police for getting her out of the house, but that The Griffin Pub where she was placed was not a suitable place for vulnerable women, even for a night, because of the extremely poor cleanliness, lack of heating, and because it is part of a pub. A number of women said they felt it was unfair that they were the ones that had to leave the family home, and the men that are convicted should be given an order not to return to the area. Some of the participants said arrest really is a necessary deterrent but it was the removal of the perpetrator that was so important. Many women said the threat of arrest and a potential custodial sentence shocked their perpetrators into ‘better behaviour’ even if for a little while. Others however said it severely escalated the situation when perpetrators were released without charge and that they got much more violent and abusive than before to stop them calling the police again. Some went so far as to say the police or the CPS making the decision to arrest and prosecute was better than a decision being made by the victim. Bethany for instance said she was in ‘no fit state’ to make the best decision for herself at that time. Others said they appreciated being given the choice.

“I think arrest is a limited form of response. It only prevents abuse briefly in the immediate period. It is totally ineffective without further support from the officers dealing with the incident. I think education and/or therapy for abusers is absolutely vital in prevention and would have a longer lasting effect to help tackle the root causes of abusive behaviour” Clara Many participants, such as Hettie, believed that an order meaning the perpetrator could not come back would have been more helpful. Arrest is a big stigma in some cultures and can have negative effects for the victim. A number of participants also suggested that an initiative such as separate counselling would not be appropriate after many years of abuse. Tina, however, said that mediation helped her and her ex-partner get to a place where they could be civil for the children. It seemed that giving the victim a safe amount of space and time is the thing most required. Others said that some form of education or perpetrator programme would also be good, but others felt anything less than a custodial sentence would belittle what they went through. Again highlighting how different each case, and each victim’s experience really is.

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Communications Follow up calls after the police response were greatly appreciated, where they happened, especially when this led to further support through signposting. However it does not appear to be common practice as a number of participants did not have this experience, and very much wished that the police had been more communicative after the initial response. Ensuring victims have support options, whether there will be a prosecution or not, should be part of the police response. They should provide information on local and national domestic abuse organisations, and refer where necessary. Where many victims are moved to another part of the country when they need to find a refuge, they often have to deal with two different police forces to move their case against the perpetrator forward. Many participants said that there were huge discrepancies between forces, some saying that Hampshire was fantastic, others saying it was dreadful, which shows that domestic abuse is not always being dealt with consistently even within the county. One thing some of the participants in this situation agreed upon was that police forces need to communicate with one another better to ensure that justice is done, and the victim is in the best possible hands. Alice said that the worst part of her experience was walking into the police station to report a marital rape, and the officer at the counter insisting she state what she was there to report in the public waiting room. When Alice asked for a private room the officer said there wasn’t one, although as soon as she disclosed she was taken to a side room, which was infuriating. She said if she had not had a friend there she would have walked out. ‘Mutual violence’ In the sample there were only a few victims who said there had been some form of mutual violence. Janet said that she retaliated in self-defence and because of this the police said they could not put a restraining order in place. Although there is academic literature that suggests mutual violence may be more common than most of us would believe, with the primary evidence it seems that law enforcers and support agencies must tread carefully in this area because more often than not it will be self-defence. Even though hitting out is still illegal, in a wider pattern of abuse and control, one needs to take a step back and look at the whole situation before deciding who the abuser is and who is the abused – or worse, believing there is no DA because both partners appear to be abusive. Taking the wider history and context into account

“They [the police] need to realise that I had nine years before this and they need to realise how much it took for me to finally pick up the phone. Just because the bruises weren’t visible on that instance, they then didn’t take me seriously. I lost all faith in the police.” (Hettie) It was quite evident that many participants felt when they had called the police they thought the officers were treating the event as a single incident, where in almost every case there was more historic abuse and this one incident was part of a wider pattern. Many women said that the police were only interested in the then and now, even if they were trying to report something in the past as well. Timing Many of the participants expressed their dissatisfaction with the slow response of the police in arriving at a scene after a call. Many also understood that the police were busy, but there were some cases where even when there was a red flag indicating domestic abuse and immediate danger, the police failed to respond swiftly. A number of participants also said that they felt the police were trying to rush through their interviews on scene, and did not see domestic abuse as a serious enough crime to spend their time on.

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Evidence A number of participants said they felt there was not a good enough attempt to gather evidence to help lead to a prosecution. If there was no recent physical sign of injury, many women were told there was not much that could be done – even if the abuse was financial, emotional, and sexual too. It appears that when evidence is not obviously there, the police are less likely to act, even if the person wishing to report is disclosing historic abuse, which simply is not good enough. Other forms of abuse Clara experienced financial abuse, and it was not taken seriously as she felt it would be if it were physical, despite there being types of serious fraud involved. Tina experienced abuse from her stepson. There is little in place in terms of criminal justice to help people experiencing different types of domestic abuse beyond the spouse, such as children, siblings, or parents. This also came up with Avril who said her family were party to the abuse and helped facilitate it through blaming her mental health condition and financially abusing her too. There is little the police can do within the current law framework when the abuse is mainly coercive control, this will change with the new law coming in but there need to be guidelines on how to deal with it and evidence it for law enforcement professionals and victims themselves to understand how to report. Cultural sensitivity Claire was from Yemen, and the police called to speak with her mum, which due to the language barrier created great confusion leading her mother to believe Claire was in prison – thus causing more emotional upset in the family than had already occurred due to the perpetration of domestic abuse. An interpreter would have been useful, as women such as Tina said they felt more isolated when language caused a barrier between them and the police. Avril also said she experienced prejudice against her because of her race and her disability, and because of these her pleas to report familial abuse were repeatedly ignored. Others outside the community need to realise that a person may not be seen as an individual within those societies, but instead treated as part of a collective, which can mean abuse is buried for the good of all but to the detriment of the victim. In two of the cases in this study the men were bigamists, married to other women, who were still in harm’s way. The police should consider this when dealing with cultures that practice polygamy and seek to reach out to the other spouses to ensure their safety. Charlie was from a travelling community and was put at risk by officers asking people in the neighbourhood where she was etc. She said there was just no respect or awareness of her wider situation. Summary The good -

-

-

It is good when the police help remove the perpetrator from the situation in some way – arrest or a restraining or non-molestation order. It is good when the police help victims retrieve their belongings, and help them get to a safe place. Being given access to alarms and other safety equipment happened in most cases, and this was always well received. When participants were asked what they wanted to happen to the perpetrator they said that was positive, however, some also said they were too emotional to make the decision and it was comforting to know that the police could make decisions in their best interests – again showing that a mandatory approach isn’t appropriate. There were many reports of kind, supportive, understanding officers, but also those that were the opposite, which led to victims feeling uncertain as to whether they would call again. This demonstrates that all officers have not been given the correct training when it comes to domestic abuse victims which can have a truly damaging effect when situations are handled inappropriately. 19 | P a g e


-

-

Participants were very happy when female officers were the ones who completed follow ups or took interviews, but also some said that actually speaking to a man was easier. Tina said that having males respond meant that the perpetrator took it more seriously and was more threatened. Taking pictures of evidence was thought of as good by many. All participants said that they felt the police acted well when they had children in the house. Where victims had contact with a specialist DV police unit they found it a positive experience.

The bad -

-

-

-

-

Lateness to the scene was the most cited grievance with the police. Many said they understood that they are very busy, but when some had a red flag on their houses it didn’t feel good enough. Frankie said that because she is not from the UK it would have been useful if she was more aware what constituted a crime and what powers the police have available to them to use. Another common complaint was about when the police failed to keep the victim in the loop throughout the process, or when there was no follow up call. Some victims who had hit out in self-defence were told that they had no case because the violence was mutual. This is not acceptable and is a reason why the full context needs to be taken into consideration before writing off a case. The police need to be better at collecting evidence so not to rely on witness statement, and understand when the victim feels the need to withdraw and that this doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to prosecute. There was also cause for concern on how the police treat those with mental health conditions and learning difficulties in domestic abuse cases, not taking them as seriously, when in fact they should be supported more, not less. There was also some concern around racial and cultural bias and treating those from other backgrounds differently due to a lack of understanding. Out of the 27 cases only a couple mentioned the DASH risk assessment, suggesting it may not be being used in every DA callout, which needs addressing. Also Fi mentioned that being told she was low risk made her feel a bit silly for calling. Some women said that after they entered refuge, interest in their case dropped, and communications worsened. The police were reported to be more dismissive when alcohol was involved. Research shows that where there is mutual substance misuse, abuse is more likely and so the police should in fact be more alert to DA in these situations.

Changed needed -

-

-

All officers must have a level of training that allows them to deal with DA victims sensitively, kindly, and appropriately. It is clear from this research that victim experience varies greatly, and that some officers still do not appreciate the seriousness of the offence, which means women are left vulnerable and hesitant to call again. A number of participants said there needs to be more of a focus on victims with some kind of support structure or protocol in place. Where there appears to be mutual violence, the police need to ensure they get the whole story before dismissing or jumping to conclusions about whether there is DA or not. It was made clear that for a number of victims, this was not the first incident, and also that they may not have been the first victim to their perpetrator. This means that the police must take into consideration the perpetrator’s history with the current victim, and any potential past victims through looking at their record, etc. There is a need to ensure privacy is kept intact and that victims are not asked to talk about their experience in public spaces, or talk to other members of the public about a case without checking with the victim first as it could put them at greater risk.

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-

-

-

Needs to be more public awareness about coercive control especially with the new law coming in, so that women feel confident about reporting, as in the past if it was not physical or sexual, victims were told there was nothing the police could do. Experiences with 101 were inconsistent too, which shows more training is needed all round. Not to tell victims that they are low risk if they come out as so on the risk assessment as it belittles their situation and may make it unlikely for them to call again if the situation escalates. It seemed as though officers were either too quick to arrest without checking there was enough evidence, or too quick to do nothing without checking if there was evidence. The majority of participants felt that some sort of non-molestation order or restraining order put in place would have been best to give the perpetrator a clear time that they were not allowed back to the house, giving the victim time to think through their options. Communication is key, and lines must be kept open at all times, with victims being informed and updated on the case as often as possible no matter if they are being supported by another organisation or not.

Focus Group – Taking Steps Project, Basingstoke Firstly the researcher asked the group of 8 how many had had contact with the police. Four people raised their hands. These four participants were asked to fill in the standard questionnaire. Then the usual interview questions were asked. After this, the researcher asked why the others were yet to contact the police and asked for the whole group’s opinion on the mandatory arrest policy. Below is a summary of the discussion held.2 Firstly when asked about the outcomes, Pippa said that the police came out straight away, talked to her outside, him inside, both got arrested. She said it was mutual violence. The police then let her go first with no risk assessment etc. They did offer panic alarms when they phoned back to check on the situation but by this point he was back too and so she didn’t feel able to say yes. Nia said that she had never phoned the police herself, and that it had been neighbours or witnesses that called. When asked why, she said that she has never done it herself as someone else got there first. She said even once her seven year old daughter made the call. She said that the first time they came around and interviewed, but did not arrive quickly. She said only one of the calls resulted in the husband being arrested, and that she felt that was enough because it has scared him into not doing it again – he is afraid of prison. She said:

“That one time they did arrest him, he came back and swore never to lay a hand on me again because he was s**t scared of going to prison – and he has stuck to it. The emotional abuse hasn’t stopped, but I feel physically safe now. It is a deterrent. But I think it would be dangerous to assume that arrest is a good thing for everyone – it depends on personality, I had a friend whose bloke got arrested and then released and he came back angrier than ever”. Although the police did not arrive quickly, they sent an ambulance first in Nia’s case which she said was good. Nia chose to retract her statement, but the police warned that due to the number of call outs to the property if it happened again he would be prosecuted by the police with the support of Nia or not. She said this made her feel safe, and that this helped scare him into not doing it again. Leanne said that the police need to look further into it if it happens, look to see how many incidents there have been before, and the severity of them. That police should also look to previous partners and things like that. In Leanne’s case, she said the police also did not come out to the incident straight away, when her ex was trying to break in. He had left by the time they got there even though she had said she was frightened for her kids who were there. The police searched for him, and found him and told him not to go back (no order put in place) but he did, she didn't call back because she 2

This session was not recorded, as one participant did not wish to be audio recorded.

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didn't trust the police after that. She chose to ring a friend instead. Leanne did not receive any follow up call or support which weakened her opinion of the police further. Another person in the group said that she had reported dodgy texts, but the police told her there was no way to prove it was her ex, despite him knowing specific things about the children. They agreed to go and ask him to stop, which it then did, but the victim felt this was merely because she had children who may have been at risk and they wouldn’t have taken her feeling harassed seriously otherwise. When the group was asked what was good about the police response, Nia said that those that handled her case were really nice and made her feel comfortable and safe. In her case they did check back in, which was greatly appreciated. The other participants did not have anything more to add on this question. When asked what was not so good about the police response, Leanne said that lateness arriving to the scene was a big issue. She said that logically you know it takes time but sometimes that doesn't help when things are escalating. Leanne said that the tone of the officers was not appropriate and she felt belittled, and all participants said that having male officers respond was not appropriate. Damien, the male in the group was in agreement, and said that he was interviewed by two female officers which also made him feel as though he was the perpetrator as opposed to the victim. Pippa said she was asked, ‘Why has he done this, what have you done’, which was highly inappropriate – shifting the blame on to her. Nia said that one time the police arrived, he was ordering a pizza whilst sat on her sofa, showing a complete disregard for the seriousness of her situation. When asked what the police could have done differently, the first answer was they could have got there on time. The group broke into a discussion about how the police should investigate things better, in more depth, rather than simply looking at that incident as a one off. Damien said they get 24 hours in police custody and that they should use it well to investigate. All agreed that it was good practice that the police should let the victim know when the perpetrator was going to be released. The participants were then asked if arrest is useful. Damien said that arrest can be useful to calm the situation down, and Nia added that the fear of being arrested helps - knowing there is a higher authority than them is quite a powerful thing. Leanne then said that it can lead to the situation worsening. Another participant added that it is very much down to personality, so it has to be looked at on an individual basis. If a perpetrator is arrested and released they feel that they got away with it, and think ‘how far have I got to go’ – like a challenge said one participant. Damien then divulged some more of his story. He said that he was slapped twice in front of police officers. She got arrested, and got physical with the police. Arresting made it worse for him, as she came back an hour later after being released (still drunk and angry), and they hadn’t warned him, and fought him even harder. They then came back and arrested him. Between the wife and the mother they turned it around on him in that hour in the police station to make out he was the perpetrator. Damien felt very much that the police still hold the belief that only women can be victims of domestic abuse. He was held for 36 hours despite him being hit by her in front of them, and him doing nothing. After he was released he was rushed to hospital, and the medical reports helped his case in court where he was released under certain conditions – including not being allowed to talk to her. At this point she dropped the charges because she didn’t want to not be able to speak to him. The discussion about what could be done better then moved on to how the police should help getting the orders, non-molestation orders and restraining, or doing it on the victim’s behalf if they are too scared (with their consent). Participants said that taking that decision away from the victim at this point is good, because it is safeguarding, and giving the victim space and time to think about

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their next move3. One participant said that the National Domestic Violence Helpline can help get orders in place within 24 hours and so if the police are unable for any reason the victim should at least be informed about other options such as this. Damien said it would be good if the police carried leaflets of local support agencies etc. in their vehicles to give to victims so they are not left completely alone. Another idea by the group was that police should offer to drive the victim to somewhere safe (a friend or a relative) to make sure they are safe. Also that the police should escort victims that need to go back to the house to collect belongings etc. One participant then pointed out that a call back after initial response, may not always be appropriate if the perpetrator had returned, and so this should be discussed with the victim before they leave the scene. Leanne said that the red flag system on the house when there has been a DA related call out is good, and helps her to feel safe knowing any future responding officers will have some indication of the history. There was then a brief discussion about the fact that it is hard to find a police station you can just walk into now and that there is a reduced police presence in general. Some of the victims said that there need to be specialist trained officers in every area to deal with DA cases, as there is with rape. They also said that women should be dealt with by female officers, and male by male, or at least there should be one of each present so that unconscious bias is not at play. None of the participants felt that the police had their interests at the centre of what they were doing. When asked if they would call again, a couple of participants said ‘well who else can we call’. There needs to be more awareness of other options of support in addition to the police. Other participants said they had lost faith and would not call again. When the other participants were asked why they were yet to call the police. One said that it was because her abuse was all coercive control and emotional and that it is hard to know what to report. There was then a discussion about the law coming in on coercive control and the participants said that there needs to be clarity around what makes the crime, and advice on how to report it, and how it is evidenced etc. At present there is little support for women who go through other forms of abuse other than physical, which means many are left vulnerable. People are reluctant to phone if they themselves believe there is no evidence, and so some information on this would help people come forward when the new law comes in.

3

Point of note: some would say this is removing agency from the victim when they need to be in control. But this was not the opinion of these victims, who felt having someone step in would be beneficial at this point because it is safeguarding in their best interests – again this would need to be assessed on a case by case basis.

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Mini case studies Although this was only a short study, it showed the hugely different situations that victims of domestic abuse can find themselves in. Here we look very briefly at the cases of four individuals that participated in the research.

Hettie

Maggie

Hettie was with her partner for nine years. After one incident of physical abuse she spoke to her doctor who convinced her to call the police. They arrested him, released him without charge due to lack of evidence. They said they had to arrest him. The arrest was damaging to Hettie due to her culture as a Sikh, it damaged the family reputation and she still suffers from it now, and it also made him more aggressive. Upon release she was not given adequate time to make arrangements. She felt an order keeping him away would have been more appropriate to give her time and space to act. The police failed to signpost her towards help and left her feeling vulnerable. She now says she has lost all faith in the police.

Maggie was in a financially, physically, and emotionally abusive relationship. It took the neighbour hearing a really bad beating that led to her needing spinal surgery for the police to be called. The officer attending asked what the marks were, if she wanted to press charges, and he was arrested. Maggie felt this was needed so she could go and get her stuff from the house. At court he was given a community order, a curfew, a restraining order, and made to pay court costs. He had a history and she said if she knew she would never have got with him. Maggie felt the police were very kind, professional, and understanding. She felt that an arrest was needed to keep her safe, and was grateful to have a female officer taking her statement. Overall she was extremely satisfied.

Helen

Liz

Helen is Romanian. Her partner tried to force her to have an abortion but it is against her religion. He was very violent during her pregnancy. She rang the police but her friends and family, as well as the perpetrator bullied her into withdrawing her statement. She was told by police that because there was no physical evidence this time a conviction was unlikely and so they couldn’t do anything. She fled, but then went back due to pressure. After a few months social services got involved, and the police intervened, and this time they made her feel safe. She said, however, that if she had been better supported the first time around, and the police had been better, it wouldn’t have had to get worse (death threats etc.) before it got better. She felt as though she was going to die.

Liz lived with her abusive partner, she suffers from learning difficulties but his disabilities are more visible. She reported him to the police for drugs but they did nothing. She called them many times about that and the abuse, and nothing. She felt as though the police were not taking her seriously, and were discriminating against her for her disability whilst being more supportive to him for his. They did not signpost her to support, or let her know when he was being released after they took him in for questioning. She felt they were on his side after one officer spoke to him and one to her so neither got the full story. They should have taken the whole situation into consideration, and not released him within a few hours with no warning. The discrimination and lack of follow up was very frustrating for her.

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Conclusions In the literature review it was found that when the police are the main intervention partner the most vulnerable are missed. The primary research backed this up with those suffering from mental ill health and those from a different cultural background feeling somewhat discriminated against. This is why with domestic abuse the multi-agency approach is key. It was also suggested that perpetrators with existing criminal records are more likely to reoffend and so the idea that arrest is a deterrent is not always valid. There was no one answer as to whether mandatory arrest is the correct policy, as participants had very different opinions due to their different situations. But it doesn’t appear that the mandatory element is followed anyway, and neither should it be when domestic abuse is a crime that is so individual and different in every occurrence. Therefore, policy should reflect the actuality that police do not enact mandatory arrest, and that doing this would not be in the best interest of the victim or anyone else. It can be concluded from this research that DA is a grey area, and no one case is the same, meaning that there is a need for flexibility in the police response; a mandatory, blanket approach is simply not appropriate. Police need to be trained correctly in the matters of DA to be well equipped when entering a DA situation to respond appropriately, with the victim at the centre of that response. There needs to be a suite of tools, including but not limited to arrest at the police’s disposal. Paradoxically despite the blanket approach of mandatory arrest being in place, the police response appears to be somewhat of a postcode lottery. Victims spoken to throughout the research from all around the county, and who are seeking refuge in the county and who have dealt with police around the country, all had very different experiences. This was even the case in the same police force areas. This shows a standard of training needs to be met by all responding officers for them to provide a victim centred approach and work with victims appropriately. There are some standard things that should happen in every case, and then there should be a suite of tools which the police can use as well as arrest or instead of it. The things that should be standard best practice are: -

-

An awareness that this may be the first call but it probably is not the first incident An attempt to understand some of the back story An appropriate, professional, kind, non-judgemental response to what is a very delicate situation A realisation of the risk of escalation that police involvement can bring Constant communication with the victim, explaining the options available in terms of what can happen with the perpetrator (non-molestation orders etc.), and also signposting to other support services A call back offered to the victim (as it is not always appropriate), preferably with an officer of the same gender

Use of the 48 hour order for the perpetrator to stay away from the property was thought of highly by all victims. Non molestation orders do not appear to be used enough despite them being part of a new suite of tools introduced for police to use in DA situations. This can give the police time to build up a fuller picture of the situation whilst the victim is not in fear of the perpetrator returning. It can also be an opportunity for the woman to flee, or seek other support. That breathing time is really important in a case as complex as domestic abuse. It may be beneficial to consider a mixed civil and criminal response, and to look for innovative resolutions such as restorative justice but with special safeguards due to the nature of domestic abuse. So despite the official line being mandatory arrest, this is not the case on the ground. And actually, this is no bad thing because the response needs to be individualised. So it is about time the protocol of mandatory arrest was dropped to reflect what is happening, and to ensure that there are better guidelines for every intervention and resolution to really put the victim at the centre of the police response.

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Areas for further research As a short research study, this report has brought up many questions that could themselves form further research studies. Below are a few ideas: -

If women are mutually violent, is there mutual coercive control, emotional, abuse, and/or financial abuse at play? Is reporting related to demographic and socio-economic background? Are the police discriminating against those with mental health issues in cases of domestic abuse? Are the police discriminating against those from a different culture in cases of domestic abuse?

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References Andrews, R. and Johnston Miller, K. 2013., Representative Bureaucracy, Gender, and Policing: The Case of Domestic Violence Arrests in England. Public Administration. 91(4), pp.998-1014. John Wiley & Sons Ltd: London. Barton, K. 2014., Positive Steps. One Community: Hampshire. Bland, M. 2014., Targeting Escalation in Common Domestic Abuse: How Much if Any? Wolfson College: Cambridge. DAIP. Program Evaluation Activities at http://www.theduluthmodel.org/about/research.html

Domestic

Abuse

Intervention

Programs.

Dixon, L. Archer, J. and Graham-Kevan, N. 2012., Perpetrator programmers for partner violence: Are they based on ideology or evidence? Legal and Criminal Psychology. 17, pp.196-215. The British Psychological Society: Wiley Online. Dixon, L. and Graham-Kevan, N. 2011., Understanding the nature and aetiology of intimate partner violence and implications for practice: A review of the evidence base. Clinical Psychology Review, January 2011. Dugan, L. 2003., Domestic Violence Legislation: Exploring its impact on the likelihood of domestic violence, police involvement, and arrest. University of Maryland National Consortium on Violence Research 2(2). Pp.283-312. HMIC. 2014., Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse. HMIC: London. HMIC. 2014., Hampshire Constabulary’s Response to tackling domestic abuse. HMIC: London. Johnson, R. and Goodlin-Fahncke, W. 2015., Exploring the Effect of Arrest Across a Domestic Batterer Typology. Juvenile and Family Court Journal 66(1). NCJFCJ. Leisenring, A. 2008., Controversies Surrounding Mandatory Arrest Policies and the Police Response to Intimate Partner Violence. Sociology Compass 2/2, pp.451-466. Blackwell Publishing: USA. Matczak, A., Hatzidimitriadou, E., and Lindsay, J., 2011. Review of Domestic Violence policies in England and Wales. London: Kingston University and St George‘s, University of London. Paymar, M. and Barnes, G. Countering Confusion http://www.theduluthmodel.org/about/research.html

about

the

Duluth

Model.

DAIP:

Rowland, J. 2013., What Happens After Arrest for Domestic Abuse: A Prospective Longitudinal Analysis of Over 2200 Cases. Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge: Cambridge. Sherman, L, W. 2014., The Impact of a Conditional Cautioning Program on Repeat Domestic Violence Offences: Preliminary Results From The Hampshire CARA Project. University of Cambridge: Cambridge. Vollaard, B. and Hamed, J. 2012., Why the Police Have an Effect on Violent Crime After All: Evidence from the British Crime Survey. Journal of Law and Economics 55(4), pp.901-924. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. Stith, S, M. et al. 2012., Systemic Perspectives on Intimate Partner Violence Treatment. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. 38(1), pp.220-240. What is the Duluth Model? http://www.theduluthmodel.org/about/ Womens Aid Police Statistics http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic_violence_topic.asp?section=0001000100220040

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Appendices Appendix 1 – The Questionnaire

A little bit about you... Here at One Community we are working with the Hampshire Police Crime Commissioner to discover if victims of domestic abuse are happy with the police response. There is little research into whether the police response is appropriate for victims, and if it meets their needs and this research seeks to address that. It is hoped this research will help lead the police to innovate and find better ways to respond to domestic abuse that is more suited to victim need, and which also helps prevent repeat offences. First in Hampshire, and hopefully then nationwide. This info sheet and your participation is a vital stage of the research and will help us create an accurate portrayal of what change is needed.

Thank you for taking the time to take part in this research, your input is invaluable and will go a long way in helping us to better support other victims.

The data from your responses will be used in the report to be submitted to the PCC by December 2015 which then maybe disseminated to third parties to improve service provision for victims, and potential victims of domestic abuse in Hampshire. All participants’ identities will be protected through changing of names, and standard rules of confidentiality apply at all times. To confirm you are happy for the information you provide to be used in this capacity please sign and date below.

Printed:

Signed:

Date:

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Kylie Barton on kbarton@1community.org.uk at any time.

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Age 18-24

24-30

30-40

40-50

50+

Prefer not to say

Gender Male

Female

Transgender

Prefer not to say

Ethnicity White

Black

Asian

Mixed

Other (please state)

Prefer not to say

Religion Christian

Muslim Prefer not to say

Sikh None

Buddhism

Judaism

Other

Do you class yourself as having a disability? Yes

No

Prefer not to say

Marital status Single

Married

Separated

In a relationship

Prefer not to say

Divorced Widowed

How many children do you have? 0

1

2

3

11-16

16+

4

5

5+

How old are your children? (Please tick all that apply) Under 5

5-11

Are you currently experiencing domestic abuse? Yes

No

Prefer not to say

How many times (roughly) have you called the police about the abuse? Once

Two or Three

Three to five

More than five

Would you call the police again in an abuse situation? Yes

No

Prefer not to say

On a scale of one to ten, how satisfied have you been with the police response: 1 Not satisfied at all

2

3

4

5 Satisfied

6

7

8

9

10

Very Satisfied

Is there anything else you would like to tell us? If so please use this space to share your thoughts...

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Appendix 2 – Interview Questions

Interview Structure Introduce myself, the project, and thank the participant for their involvement and then present the participant with the questionnaire to complete. Once complete invite the participant to tell me a little about their situation. Then continue with the following questions in a semi-structured manner.

1) Approximately how many times have you called the police due to domestic abuse?

2) In what ways have the police responded when you have called them?

3) What was good about the way the police responded?

4) What was not good about the way the police responded?

5) What would you like the police to have done differently?

6) What was the outcome of the police attending?

7) How do you feel about the outcomes that came about because you called the police?

8) To what extent do you feel like your needs were met throughout this process of police involvement?

9) Would you call the police again? Why?

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Once Called Twice Shy 2015  

A project commissioned by the OPCC to look into victim experience of the police response to domestic abuse. Carried out November and Decembe...

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