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Position Paper: Police Domestic and Family Violence Policy and Practice

The pivotal role that police perform as the first responders to domestic violence incidents is well recognised. Attending domestic violence incidents is considered to be a core aspect of police practice. Victim-survivors having initial positive interactions with police lead to improved reporting rates, reduced re-victimisation and an increase in overall safety, justice and wellbeing. It is widely acknowledged that police responses to domestic and family violence have improved. This has subsequently increased confidence within the service system, with more women reporting domestic violence than ever before. However, despite these improvements domestic violence is still widely considered to be under-reported and a proportion of victim-survivors continue to report being re-victimised by their interactions with police.

This report seeks to highlight the views of frontline domestic and family violence specialists and victim-survivors in relation to current police responses to domestic violence. Women’s Safety NSW believes that we can work together to ensure that the concerns shared by victim-survivors and frontline workers are heard and reflected in our current system and practices. The safety of women and children experiencing, and at risk of experiencing, domestic violence can only be achieved through an intentional, planned and united cross-sectorial effort. Efforts made in improving police policy and practices are acknowledged, but this report highlights there is more to be done to further improve responses in order to increase women and children’s access to safety, justice and wellbeing.