Policing the Police – Domestic Violence Policies that Work

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Conference
2014 Police & Justice Conference
Date
25 June 2014
Decision
Carried as Amended

Conference recognises that domestic violence is not a new problem but worryingly the age-old crime is being allowed to become a forgotten statistic of the ConDem police cuts.

Statistics show that cases of domestic violence dramatically increase in postcode areas where there is a lack of adequate social welfare support. Austerity measures have diminished household incomes and the ideologically driven attempts to destroy the welfare state by the current government policies by slicing budgets to services is having a devastating effect on the way the police react to cases of domestic violence.

Tireless work by pressure groups – including our own UNISON National Women’s Committee – to highlight domestic violence, helped referrals to the CPS rise by 23% during 2007 – 2010.

But by 2012 -2013 the number of successful prosecutions had plummeted because CPS referrals once again reduced, resulting in just one thing – that victims remain victims, trapped in a domestic hell with no hope of getting the justice which they are entitled to from the one place they thought they could get it, the justice system.

The Labour Party released Freedom of Information figures which suggest that in England and Wales since 2010 there has been a decrease of 13% in the number of cases referred by the police to the CPS. Furthermore, statistics show that in the UK one woman is killed through domestic violence every 3.2 days.

What is the point in the Government putting tens of millions of pounds into specialist local domestic violence support services if there is no hope of justice for the victims?

Conference, we are all worried about when we will become workplace victims of the constant battering by the government – but we must never forget the domestic violence victims, who through no fault of their own, have no hope, and must wonder, as the abuse continues to rain down on them, where to go for justice because this government has let them down.

Conference, once we could have said quite confidently ‘report it to the police and they’ll deal with it for you’. But ConDem cuts have bitten so deeply that this can no longer be an expectation let alone a guaranteed outcome.

So victims continue to be victims.

But we as branches need to be able to look after our members, who if statistics are right, are also suffering daily from domestic violence. Police forces especially seem resistant to implementing internal domestic abuse policies and it is imperative that police branch secretaries influence management to get a domestic abuse policy in place.

Hopefully having an internal domestic abuse policy may influence attitudes and ultimately positively affect the way these acts of violence are responded to, investigated and followed through.

Conference, domestic violence must remain at the top of the agenda and we ask that the Police and Justice Service Group works with Police and Justice branches to ensure they are given support in getting the UNISON Domestic Violence model policy in place in branches, thereby ensuring that we, unlike the ConDems, aren’t letting victims, our members, down. This crucial work will save lives.

Conference instructs the Police and Justice Service Group to:

1)ascertain the number of domestic abuse policies already negotiated and implemented within our police branches;

2)provide advice and support to branches negotiating domestic abuse policies;

3)work with the National Women’s Committee and inform all national committees to broaden awareness of the importance of these policies; and,

4)report back to conference in 2015 on progress.