Welsh Women’s Aid responds to HM Inspectorate of Probation Thematic Inspection into Domestic Abuse

Welsh Women’s Aid responds to HM Inspectorate of Probation Thematic Inspection into Domestic Abuse (published 25 September 2018)

Eleri Butler, CEO of Welsh Women’s Aid said:

“We are very concerned by the findings from today’s HMIP thematic inspection into the response to domestic abuse perpetrators by Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) in England and Wales.

The report shows that poor practice is widespread and that work to protect victims of domestic abuse is not good enough in 71% cases, which cannot be acceptable when the majority of their work involves domestic abuse offender management.

The inspection further evidences widespread lack of understanding about domestic abuse across CRCs, that basic assessments are carried out without always having the information needed from other agencies, gaps in effective interventions to create behaviour change and reduce risk, and that in over half the cases reviewed offenders were not making any progress on their court orders.

This is a damning criticism of the private companies that run CRCs across England and Wales, which suggests they are putting profits over and above safe practice. We know that many domestic abuse offenders are convicted for crimes as wide-ranging as public order offences, assault, stalking or coercive controlling behaviour, yet their supervision may involve as little as a phone call every 6 weeks. It is not acceptable that there are no obligations in CRC contracts that sets out exactly what needs to happen and when in the management of domestic abuse offenders.

The seriousness of these findings also highlights that it is insufficient to inspect offender management services’ quality of their domestic violence work so infrequently, with the last domestic abuse thematic inspection of probation services happening in 2004. It is also inadequate for UK Government to suggest these problems can be dealt with by acknowledging the contracts will be scrapped from 2020 following a review of probation services across England and Wales.

We welcome future proposals to merge the CRC in Wales with the National probation Service in Wales. But we call on the inspectorate recommendations to be implemented much sooner.

We want to see the CRC in Wales ensure all staff are trained to effectively understand domestic abuse and identify and manage offenders’ risk, and to deliver effective interventions that make sure all victims are protected and supported. Domestic abuse specialist services in the community should be resourced by the CRC to complement their work so that the whole family has access to help and support in accredited, safe, separate provision where needed. We want to see good practice being shared but it is also essential that every CRC is held to account, immediately, for their performance, before these failures result in more survivors and their children being abused, or worst, killed.”

Anyone who needs help and support for domestic abuse, sexual violence or all forms of violence against women can contact the Wales Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 or by Text, Type Talk, Email or Live Chat http://www.welshwomensaid.org.uk/what-we-do/live-fear-free-helpline/