Police face calls to improve over domestic abuse

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WEST Yorkshire Police must improve the way it deals with the victims of domestic abuse, a report by a Government watchdog has ruled.

The force, which recorded 10,690 domestic abuse related crimes for the year to August 2013, was praised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) for treating the issue as a priority.

But inspectors said inconsistencies meant police “cannot be confident that risks to victims of domestic abuse are effectively assessed and measures put in place to maintain their future safety in all cases”.

It said call handlers receive little guidance in how to deal with domestic abuse beyond their initial training when they start their jobs. And it said that in busier areas, cases initially graded as medium or standard risk may not be examined well enough to ensure the right response is given.

HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Northern Region, Roger Baker, said there were “some risks in the way West Yorkshire Police deal with victims of domestic abuse”.

The report said that in West Yorkshire, domestic abuse accounts for seven per cent of calls to the police for assistance. Of these 35 per cent were from repeat victims.

Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Dodd said: “The report properly identifies a number of significant strengths in our response to domestic abuse and we are delighted that these have been highlighted.

“However, we cannot be complacent and we recognise that there is more that we can do to deal with this blight on individuals and families.”

Police commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said he was making an additional £1 million available to tackle domestic abuse over the next two years.

He said: “Reporting of domestic violence and abuse is higher in West Yorkshire than many other forces and I believe that is partly down to the increased awareness and victims knowing that there is help and support available to them.”

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