Commissioner’s response to Police Super-Complaint about police perpetrated domestic abuse

ln March 2020 the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) submitted a super-complaint alleging that police forces were not responding appropriately to cases of domestic abuse where the suspect was a member of the police.

A response by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), HMICFRS and College of Policing was provided in June 2022.

Responses by Police and Crime Commissioner’s were invited on the specific below recommendation from the report:

Recommendation 3a:

PCCs, MoJ and Chief Constables should make sure their provision of domestic abuse support services and guidance is capable of meeting the specific needs of all non-police and police victims of PPDA.

For PCCs, this should include the following:

  • PCCs considering whether local services are capable of dealing with the specific risks and vulnerabilities of PPDA victims and supporting them when engaging with the police complaints and disciplinary system

Commissioner’s response

We accept this action. The Commissioner and her office have been informed of progress made and continuing to be made by Surrey Police in response to the CWJ super-complaint.

At the time of the super-complaint, the Commisisoner’s office liaised with Michelle Blunsom MBE, CEO of East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services, who represents the four independent specialist support services in Surrey to discuss the experience of Police Perpetrated Domestic Abuse victims. The Commissioner welcomed that Michelle was invited by Surrey Police to be a member of the Gold Group, chaired by DCC Nev Kemp after publication of the CWJ super-complaint.

Michelle has since been working closely with Surrey Police on the response to both the super-complaint and the subsequent HMICFRS, College of Policing, and the IOPC report. This has led to the development of improved force policy and procedure, considering the specific risks and vulnerabilities of Police Perpetrated Domestic Abuse victims.

Michelle has made recommendations to Surrey Police concerning force training and facilitated contact with SafeLives. Michelle is part of the challenge process to ensure the policy and procedure is being practiced and lived. The revised procedure includes funding made available to the four specialist DA services to pay for emergency accommodation, without the details of the victim being disclosed to the force. This anonymity is crucial for the victim to have trust and confidence in the independent specialist services in Surrey to support them in the way they would all survivors.

As part of commissioing activity, specialist services must confirm their safeguarding arrangements to the Office of the Commissioner as part of grant funding terms and conditions. We have trust in these services to independently represent Police Perpetrated Domestic Abuse victims in Surrey at all times and they will frequently liaise with Surrey Police and other forces for cross boundary issues when required.

Michelle Blunsom and Fiamma Pather (CEO of Your Sanctuary) play an active role in our Surrey Against Domestic Abuse Partnership, co-chairing the Surrey Domestic Abuse Management Board. This ensures the differing needs of all survivors and their safety are at the heart of strategic activity. They always have open access to the Commissioner’s office to raise any concerns and our support for the Safe & Together operating principle of, ‘Collaborate with survivors to enable safety, choice and empowerment – as the first priority before any other activity with regards to perpetrator is undertaken’.

The super-complaint has shone a light on this issue and the needs of Police Perpetrated Domestic Abuse victims. As more is uncovered we will continue to assess resourcing and whether additional funds for specialist independent services are required – which will be raised by Commissioner’s office for consideration with the MoJ/Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), as part of the victims commissioning portfolio.