Labour vows domestic abuse specialists will be in 999 call centres

999 emergency call centres, need domestic abuse specialists on hand, says, the Shadow Home Secretary.

Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, whilst speaking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, said Labour would install the specialists to provide “expertise to deal with difficult cases”.

This follows Norfolk Police who referred itself to the watchdog for not responding to a 999 call from a house where four bodies were later found.

Ms Cooper told the BBC that the case was indicative of a wider resourcing issue, and described the incident in Norfolk as “deeply troubling”.

“Rightly, this case has now been referred for investigation because there does appear to have been a 999 call that wasn’t responded to.”

Would a domestic abuse specialist present in the call centre have made a difference? Ms Cooper says that is unclear, however, she added:

“I do think there is a wider issue here about the 999 response to particularly domestic abuse cases.”

The Home Office have said the government have gone “further than ever before” to tackle domestic abuse. With a spokesperson adding:

“We have classified violence against women and girls as a national threat, setting clear expectations for how the police should respond, and have provided funding for forces to complete specialist domestic abuse training.”

The spokesperson added further that the government have recruited an additional 20,000 police officers and forces will receive up to £922.2m in additional funding in the next financial year.

Figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats last year showed victims of burglaries and domestic incidents were sometimes waiting more than 13 hours for police to attend. Then July 2023, saw the government announce that police officers in England would no longer respond to concerns about mental health if there is no risk to life or crime being committed in a bid to save police time.

Ms Cooper added:

“Police are having to pick up the pieces from all kinds of different crises, be they mental health, be they other crises and failings elsewhere in the system, and they are often overstretched.

But we need to make sure that people have the confidence that, if they are in an emergency, the police will be there when they need them and I think too often people don’t feel that is the case.”

Farah Nazeer, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, has commented:  

“We welcome Labour’s announcement that the party would put domestic abuse specialists in 999 call centres to help respond to cases involving domestic abuse. However, it is important to remember that domestic abuse specialists are needed at all stages of the police response – from call centres and first responders, through to investigation, to ensure that survivors are protected and perpetrators held to account. Specialist support services for survivors are also critical for ensuring that survivors are supported throughout the criminal justice system, and sustainable funding for these services remains an urgent priority. Women’s Aid is calling for all political parties to commit to a minimum of £427Million for specialist women’s domestic abuse services in England. 

From our work with survivors, we also know that many do not report domestic abuse to police. To tackle domestic abuse, we need the government to drive a truly whole-system approach that will improve the whole of a survivor’s journey – from housing to health, welfare and much more.” 

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