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Police watchdogs find ‘systemic weaknesses’ in the investigation of police-perpetrated domestic abuse complaints – The Justice Gap
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
August 14 2022
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO

Police watchdogs find ‘systemic weaknesses’ in the investigation of police-perpetrated domestic abuse complaints

Police watchdogs find ‘systemic weaknesses’ in the investigation of police-perpetrated domestic abuse complaints

A report into a super-complaint into domestic abuse perpetrated by police officers has found ‘systemic weaknesses’ by police forces in investigating complaints against their own officers. The report, released this week by a triumvirate body comprising Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, the College of Policing and the Independent Office for Police Conduct, responded to submissions lodged by the Centre for Women’s Justice. It comprises the most extensive inquiry ever conducted in England and Wales into police-perpetrated domestic abuse, the police response to which the CWJ says is ‘significantly harming the interests of the public’.

The 140 page report found that only 6 out of 104 women who reported police perpetrated domestic abuse (PPDA) would feel confident to report again and only 9% of reported PPDA cases resulted in criminal charging. The body also found that over one third (39%) of criminal investigations reviewed as part of the investigation were inadequate.

The CWJ has condemned the finding that only 40% of cases where PPDA was reported resulted in any misconduct investigation. The report says ‘misconduct investigations are not being consistently carried out when they should be…The decisions not to investigate those accused of PPDA for misconduct that we reviewed were often flawed.’ Only eight cases out of the sample of 122 considered by the report were referred to the Independent Office of Police Complaints (IOPC).

The super-complaint, lodged in March 2020, concerned 19 cases across 15 police forces. Harriet Wistrich, Director of CWJ said in response to the report: ‘We are pleased that the lid is now lifted into the scandal of police perpetrated domestic abuse and the failures to tackle it. However, shortcomings in the super-complaint process of investigation mean that some of the most egregious accounts of corruption have not been investigated.  For this reason we maintain our call for a statutory public inquiry into police perpetrated abuse.’