The police and criminal justice

The issue

While the response to domestic abuse can and must go much further than the criminal justice system, it remains a critical part of the picture, and a poor response from criminal justice agencies is a common issue raised with us by survivors.

The Commissioner has been concerned by the significant drop in criminal justice outcomes since 2016, despite increased recording of domestic abuse offences by police.

The vision

A trusted and accountable criminal justice system, which provides a just, safe, competent and transparent response for all victims and survivors of domestic abuse, and an informed and proportionate response to perpetrators.

The Commissioner’s work

The Commissioner’s office is working to ensure victims and survivors are able to access the criminal justice response that they want, with their risk of harm robustly assessed and managed: a response which will enable them to feel protected when they report an incident of domestic abuse.

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner meets regularly with stakeholders in government and across the criminal justice system, including the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, and the courts, to help improve outcomes.

As part of this, the Commissioner is working to ensure cases can be tracked from report to court to allow us to monitor points of attrition, as well as crucial victim and perpetrator data, particularly around repeat victimisation and protected characteristics. The Commissioner is highlighting the important role that specialist advocacy plays in first response, alongside the police.

The Commissioner is focussed in particular on how the role of Specialist Domestic Abuse Courts and wider problem-solving courts models can better support victims, through a coordinated community response, and will undertake work to identify and promote best responses on perpetrator management.

The Commissioner is calling for a robust response to police perpetrators of domestic abuse and sexual violence, including through the Criminal Justice Bill, so that victims and survivors feel safe to report crimes. The team is also working to ensure measures to reduce the number of people sent to prison on short sentences, included in the Sentencing Bill, do not leave victims and survivors of domestic abuse unsafe.

Recent work

The Criminal Justice Bill
The Domestic Abuse Commissioner has written a briefing for MPs, calling for amendments to strengthen the Criminal Justice Bill so that police-perpetrated domestic abuse is robustly tackled. Read the Commissioner’s briefing for the Criminal Justice Bill here.

The Sentencing Bill
The Domestic Abuse Commissioner is concerned that new measures in the Sentencing Bill to reduce the number of prisoners on short sentences could leave victims of domestic abuse at risk. Read the Commissioner’s briefing for the Sentencing Bill here.

New police counting rules
The Domestic Abuse Commissioner is concerned that changes to the way that police count domestic abuse are downplaying number of domestic abuse reports to the police. Read the Commissioner’s statement on counting rules here.

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