Perspective: Battered Wives Let Down by Police; Statistics Have Revealed That Police Are Failing to Treat Many Incidents of Violence in the Home as a Crime. David Barrett Reports

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Byline: David Barrett

Police are failing to record more than half of the domestic violence crimes reported to them, an official report suggested today.

The investigation by two official watchdogs uncovered significant inconsistencies in the way police forces and prosecutors handle the incidents. Just a quarter of incidents sampled -118 out of 463 -were recorded as a crime by police, but inspectors estimated the true total should have been more than double, at 260.

'This study revealed that, potentially, a further 142 crimes were committed which were not recorded,' said the report.

'Had these crimes been recorded, this would have raised the level of crime recording from 25 per cent of incidents to 56 per cent.'

The joint study by the police and Crown Prosecution Service inspectorates found that policies to tackle the crime were often not matched by action on the ground.

Variations between police forcesmeant that arrest rates at domestic violence incidents ranged from 13 per cent to 63 per cent, the study found.

Police receive a domestic violence call every minute of the day, and two women a week are killed by a partner or ex-partner.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) produced 22 recommendations to improve the way the crime is handled by the criminal justice system.

'All too often, policy and rhetoric are not matched on the ground by effective responses and solid investigative practice,' said the report.

'The priority given to domestic violence locally was variable and depended heavily upon local initiatives and commitment.'

While recognising the commitment of front line staff to the issue, few had received in-depth training in dealing with domestic violence cases, inspectors found.

The variation in the arrest rate meant that systems needed to be put in place to analyse why an arrest was not made in each individual case, they added. …