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Protection for victims of domestic abuse ‘not good enough’, report warns



Perpetrators of domestic abuse are being left to “drift” through their probation period without the support they need to change their behaviour, a report has revealed.

HM Inspectorate of Probation found that staff from community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) lacked the skills, experience or time to properly supervise offenders and often underestimated the risk they posed.

Chief inspector Dame Glenys Stacey said: “Probation companies are simply not doing enough to rehabilitate domestic abusers and they are not doing enough to protect their victims from harm.

“Of a quarter of a million or so people that are under probation supervision in any one year, we estimate about half of those are domestic abuse perpetrators, so this is no small beer.”

The CRCs are tasked with helping rehabilitate low and medium-risk offenders across England and Wales.

Dame Glenys Stacey says companies don't do enough to protect victims from harm
Dame Glenys Stacey says companies don’t do enough to protect victims from harm

The report revealed that there were “small pockets of good practice” – but work to protect victims and children was not good enough in seven out of 10 cases, four out of five home visits were not carried out, and written reviews to monitor progress were not completed in two-thirds of cases.

Jane (not her real name) had been with her new boyfriend only about a month when he began abusing her. By then they were engaged.

It started with pushing and shoving and spitting in her face.

“He strangled me quite a few times. On one occasion I almost lost consciousness,” she said.

“He’d elbowed me in the face, stamped on my head. He put me in a headlock and dumped me on the bed… He kept saying he would change.”

Eventually, Jane went to the police after he attacked her in public earlier this year.

She only found out he had already being convicted for abusing his ex-wife when he appeared in court for threatening to kill her. He walked away with a suspended sentence.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women's Aid, said there should be awareness and training
Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said there should be awareness and training

Despite being on a programme to change his behaviour, Jane’s boyfriend was able to attack her time and again.

Now she has moved away from her family and old job to get away from where he still lives.

She said: “It’s difficult. I live in fear every single day thinking he’s around the corner.”

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, wants to see urgent change.

She said: “The first step is to have a proper awareness, training, understanding of the dynamics of domestic abuse and then we need to see all the probation services properly thinking about the safety of victims and children and also properly challenging and supporting perpetrators of domestic abuse to change their ways.”

The report is a broad look at the work carried out by all CRCs. Most declined to comment or directed Sky News to the Ministry of Justice.

One victim did not find out about her ex's previous offences until she went to the police
One victim did not find out about her ex’s previous offences until she went to the police

Prisons and probation minister Rory Stewart said “decisive action” was being taken, including ending current contracts two years early.

He said: “By putting in place new arrangements we will heed the lessons from what has and hasn’t worked, so probation plays its full part in tackling domestic abuse and protecting victims.”

Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC did respond saying it had taken additional steps to raise standards after already developing a safeguarding strategy and a new research unit to identify what works best.

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