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Abolish ‘sanction-detection’ target for incidents of domestic violence

Comment 20th July 2010

It is quite right that police should be required to pay attention to domestic violence.  However they must get called to quite a few trivial domestic rows, either by one of the parties or a third party.  The priority should be to calm the situation and not necessarily to criminalise someone.

It is much better that police investigate the more serious incidents of domestic violence even if these might not always seem the most likely to end in a ‘sanction-detection’ than that the system should encourage them to pursue less serious cases where there may be a better chance of getting a result. 

Pursuing incidents of domestic violence is praiseworthy but there are budget cuts coming and if police have to prioritise it is surely better that they pursue cases of violence according to the level of violence, regardless of whether they are domestic or not.  Which is worse, a minor slap in a domestic row where a couple have lived together without incident for some years and are going through a crisis, or a glassing at the pub?

Why does this matter?

The consequence of police cautions issued where police have to meet 'sanction-detection' targets in cases of domestic violence can be disporpotionate to any offence committed, in terms of difficulties in employment and travel.  It is sad when police boast of their 'sanction-detection' rate rather than of the number of the cases where they managed to calm and reconcile parties without criminalising anyone..

Also victims of domestic violence might be wary of involving the police for fear that they themselves might be targetted by police.

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