The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating South Wales Police contact with a woman in Cardiff who suffered a violent assault by her then boyfriend Craig Thomas in 2013. Mr Thomas was sentenced in December 2013 to 10 years’ imprisonment for violent offences against the woman concerned.
The IPCC’s investigation comes after a complaint by the woman about how South Wales Police handled incidents before she reported the abuse to police, and the following police investigation into her complaint.
Eleri Butler, Chief Executive of Welsh Women’s Aid, said:
“Although we await the findings of the IPCC’s investigation, this is yet another investigation into police forces in Wales which suggests the quality of the initial response and the following investigation undertaken by responding police officers needs to be significantly improved.
Domestic abuse is a serious crime which leads to, on average, two women a week being killed by a partner or ex-partner. It involves a pattern of controlling behaviour and women might not always feel able to speak out about the nature and extent of the abuse they are experiencing. However, we know that if domestic abuse is not taken seriously when it is brought to the attention of the authorities, this results in further and even lethal violence.
Whilst some improvements in criminal justice responses have been made, more still needs to be done. Too many women continue to tell us of the poor, unhelpful and sometimes dangerous responses they get from agencies when trying to get help. This has to change, if we are serious about making sure that everyone in Wales can live free from violence and abuse.
It is the role of the police to make sure that victims are listened to, understood and protected, that criminal justice sanctions are pursued and that perpetrators are held to account for their crimes.
We are keen to work with South Wales Police to help them places victims’ experiences and needs at the centre of their work and to strengthen police responses to survivors of domestic abuse, so that the safety of women and children is maximised and offenders are brought to justice.”
Anyone affected by domestic abuse or sexual violence in Wales can contact the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 for 24-hour, confidential information and support, and help to access local services.