Report finds ‘serious failings’ with Beds Police response to domestic abuse

Bedfordshire Police Headquarters.
Bedfordshire Police Headquarters.

Beds Police is ‘seriously failing’ victims of domestic abuse, a report as found.

An investigation into English and Welsh police forces by HM Inspectorate of the Constabulary listed Beds Police as one of the worst for dealing with victims of domestic abuse.

The damning report meant that the force was just one of four across England and Wales that needed immediate remedial action as HMIC was “so concerned about the scale and extent of the failings” following an inspection in November.

A subsequent action plan drawn up by Beds Police was also found wanting, as a re-inspection by HMIC in February found that “little had been done”.

Initial concerns centred around the “potentially dangerous” way in which the force indentified and protected victims of domestic abuse.

The report found that most calls from victims were received in the force control room and that in some cases call handlers were not getting enough information to establish the level of risk.

This “inconsistent and sometimes limited” approach meant that officers attending victims did not always have the full history of the case.

HMIC assessors ruled that “weaknesses in leadership” hindered strategic planning on domestic abuse, while officers’ focus is on the offender and crime rather than the victim.

Since a follow-up inspection in February, Beds Police has drawn up a more detailed plan on handling domestic abuse. This has been considered by HMIC, which will re-inspect the force in September.

Chief constable Colette Paul admitted the force’s failings following the report.

She said: “It was clear things were nowhere near as good as they should be when it comes to dealing with victims of domestic abuse. Since then we have worked even harder to improve the service we provide and we are committed to making safeguarding those affected by this crime the number one priority.”

“The number of officers working on the assessment of victim’s vulnerability has been increased and there is now also greater scrutiny.”

Police and crime commissioner Olly Martins added: “It is undeniable that the report highlights some organisational and systemic issues that make for uncomfortable reading. (Colette Paul) has already put in place an improvement programme that I am confident is addressing the very issues HMIC are highlighting.

“I will of course hold the Chief Constable to account for delivering the improvements we need to see.”