Victims must come first – Surrey PCC responds to HMIC Domestic Abuse report

HMIC have today published their report: ‘Everyone’s Business: Improving the Police Response to Domestic Abuse’,

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey – which has carried out significant work with victims of domestic abuse in the county to improve service across the criminal justice system – will consider the report carefully and will submit a full response to the HMIC.

Commenting on the publication of the report, Kevin Hurley, Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey said:

“Victims should be at the heart of the criminal justice system. We know that very often they are not. I am determined to make things better for victims of crime in Surrey.

“This report from HMIC comes at a time where Surrey Police is making significant efforts to improve its service to victims of all crime, including domestic abuse. I appointed an Assistant Commissioner for Victims, Jane Anderson, to provide dedicated, independent scrutiny on just these kinds of issues and she has undertaken a review of the service provided to domestic abuse victims in Surrey.

“There is certainly room for improvement and Surrey Police are fully engaged in that process – open to constructive criticism and willing to make real changes to the way they work. The Chief Constable has a personal commitment to improving her force’s service to victims of domestic abuse and I know she will reflect carefully on the HMIC report and its recommendations. We will continue to work together to do what we can to support victims of domestic abuse to take the first step of reporting it to the police, and make sure that they get the best possible service.

“I set no numerical targets for Surrey Police in order to liberate them to take a victim-centred approach. Domestic abuse is a particularly complex issue for which statistics only tell a small part of the story – for example victims are often reluctant to press charges against significant others, or the abuse might be of a more insidious, psychological form which is deeply distressing but difficult to pin down as a crime. In every case, the focus first and foremost must be on protecting victims and families and providing a sensitive and emotionally intelligent service.

“We can only tackle these issues in partnership and I am pleased that the good relationships we have in Surrey with all of the agencies involved in this issue have been noted by HMIC. This is a strong foundation to build on.

“I must add my surprise at HMIC’s recommendation to consider sending double-crewed units to every domestic incident. I would welcome that, but where would the extra officers to provide capacity to double-crew across every shift come from? On top of years of budget cuts, Surrey Police lost more than £1m from its £200m budget this year, ‘top-sliced’ to pay for amongst other things, more HMIC inspections. The Government should think carefully about this report and consider what the public would want to see their money spent on – more response officers or more inspections of response officers? I know what I’d prefer.”