New book aims to improve police responses to domestic abuse

  • Date

    Wed 2 Nov 22

image of book cover and photo of police officer from behind

Serving police officers have worked with sociologists at the University of Essex and City University to co-author a book looking to improve the policing of domestic abuse.

Professor Emeritus Jackie Turton from the University of Essex and Dr Ruth Weir at City University collaborated with domestic abuse specialists from Thames Valley and Bedfordshire police forces on Policing Domestic Abuse: Risk, Policy, and Practice with a view to informing those working in policing about the dynamics of how domestic abuse occurs, how best to respond to and investigate it, and, in the longer term, how to prevent it.

Divided into thematic areas, the book uses recent research findings to update theoretical analysis of the subject and to highlight areas of good practice: ‘what works and why’.

The researchers have found that policing domestic abuse can only be dealt with through an effective partnership response. The book outlines the responsibilities of each agency and the statutory processes in place when policy is not followed.

Professor Turton, who joined the university after a career in the health service and is now an Emeritus Professor, specialises in researching family violence. She said: “Domestic abuse is a high priority for police forces throughout England and Wales. Recent findings from the new Domestic and Sexual Offences Unit (DASO) concerning the Metropolitan Police have indicated failings to root out offenders and protect victims.

“There are many challenges concerning domestic abuse so it is important to find ‘champions’ who can initiate pathways to change; we found our champions in Katy Barrow-Grint and Jacqueline Sebire, serving police officers and our co-authors.”

Dr Weir, Senior Fellow in the Violence and Society Centre at City University said: “This book is a unique collaboration of real-life policing experience blended with the latest academic research and best practice.

“We hope that it becomes a core part of training for those working with victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse.”

Next year one third of police officers will be new recruits, and, at this critical time, the authors hope the book will achieve the following outcomes:

• Better trained police officers who are more competent to respond to domestic abuse and therefore increased public confidence in the police
• Officers more confident in holding perpetrators accountable and recognising, understanding and supporting victims
• Officers reflecting on previous failings to avoid similar experiences
• Officers working more effectively with other agencies to give coordinated solutions
• Public having increased confidence in reporting
• Recognition that domestic abuse is experienced by those within policing organisations too
• A more consistent and higher quality response for victims
• Earlier detection and reduced harm from domestic abuse.

More about the co-authors

Katy Barrow-Grint is a Chief Superintendent in Thames Valley Police with over 20 years of police experience. She has an academic interest in domestic abuse, completing her master’s at Warwick Business School, and has written on domestic abuse attrition rates in the criminal justice system.

Dr Jacqueline Sebire is an Assistant Chief Constable with Bedfordshire Police. She has 30 years of police service specialising as a detective in homicide and safeguarding and public protection. She has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Leicester researching the risk factors associated with domestic abuse homicide.

Dr Ruth Weir is a Senior Research Fellow in the Violence and Society Centre at City University and Visiting Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Essex. She specialises in using quantitative methods and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyse gender-based violence and abuse. Prior to working in academia Ruth held several research and policy positions in local government and the Home Office. She completed her PhD at the University of Essex, focusing on individual, family and neighbourhood level predictors of domestic abuse in Essex.