Image Credit : Free Digital Photos – Stuart Miles

Thousands of people are at risk of harm or even murder because of widespread police failure in England and Wales to tackle domestic abuse, a report says.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary said there was an alarming and ineffective response by many police forces.

And it accused them of unacceptable weaknesses despite domestic abuse being linked to 8% of crimes and police chiefs saying abuse was a priority. Police chiefs said they were working to improve their response despite cuts.

HMIC said police received more than one million calls a year relating to domestic abuse and almost 58,000 victims – the vast majority of them women – were at risk of serious harm or murder.

It said three women a fortnight were being killed by a partner or former partner and a third of all assaults recorded by the police related to domestic violence.

In an exceptionally critical report, the HMIC said that chief officers must recognise that domestic abuse constituted a major problem that demanded comparable resources and focus to those devoted to tackling other high volume crimes such as burglary.

The report said only eight out of 43 forces were responding well to domestic abuse.

HMIC said that victims faced a “lottery” in how they were treated.

Sixteen of the 43 forces had no systems in place to prioritise calls from known victims or to prepare emergency response officers, and HMIC blamed many of the failings on the culture and ethos of individual officers.

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