Two reports released today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) highlight failures by the police to identify and protect vulnerable victims of crime.

The HMIC report PEEL: Police effectiveness 2015 (vulnerability) – A national overview measures the effectiveness of all 43 police forces at supporting and protecting vulnerable victims.

The report found that:

  • Three quarters of police forces had either causes for concern, areas for improvement, or both.
  • Four forces were judged to be inadequate.
  • More than half of forces have a stated area for improvement related to compliance with the Victims’ Code.
  • There is no one definition of vulnerability across all police forces, resulting in an inconsistent service across the country for vulnerable victims.

Responding to the report, Mark Castle, Chief Executive of Victim Support, said: “This report makes disturbing reading, highlighting widespread failure by the police to identify, assess or support the most vulnerable victims of crime, in particular children.

“When, as the report says, even ‘small failures may have tragic consequences’, it is clearer than ever that, in order for vulnerable victims to get the support that they need and deserve, their rights must be enshrined in a new Victims’ Law which is robustly enforced to deliver real improvements on the ground.”

A second report released today, Increasingly everyone’s business: A progress report on the police response to domestic abuse, looks at the progress made by police forces over the last year in supporting and protecting victims of domestic abuse. The report found improvements across many police forces but highlighted a concerning variation in prosecution rates.

Mark Castle, Chief Executive of Victim Support, said: “While we welcome the improvements many forces have made to the service they provide to victims of domestic abuse, serious concerns remain around the variation in prosecution rates, which result in a postcode lottery for many victims who are being denied access to the justice they deserve.
“And we should not forget the male victims of domestic abuse*. These issues apply to them too, and it is vital that the police recognise and respond to this, so that more victims feel able to come forward, knowing they will receive the support they need.

“It also remains clear that many victims are unaware that they have the right to give a Victim Personal Statement – a powerful account of the depth of harm caused by the abuse, and something that can help inform sentencing.”

* The 2013-14 Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated there were 1.4 million female victims of domestic abuse and 700,000 male victims in that year. 4.5% of men have experienced domestic abuse.