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Police have attended an incident – what happens next?

This is aimed at anyone who has had a recent visit from the police regarding a domestic disturbance of some sort. It hopefully explains what the police do about domestic abuse, how it works and what you can expect to happen in the short and longer term.

When the police have attended, this can signal the end to a traumatic event; you may even feel that their visit was a traumatic experience in itself. You may be experiencing a real mixture of emotions about why they were there and wonder what they have done or intend to do. You may worry about how this will impact on you, your family, your job and even your life. Because they may have brought some order to what was a chaotic event, you may just feel you need them to now forget it all so that life can carry on.

As a charity, we work very closely with the police in order to reduce the risk of domestic abuse. Hopefully we can explain what they are trying to do and why they do certain things.

The police have long been regarded as the agency who will attend domestic disturbances at the moment of, or just after, a traumatic event, at any time of the day or night. These vary from basic verbal arguments to very serious assaults or worse. Officers attend many incidents and try to assess the levels of harm, both the physical and the psychological, that people are coping with. They also appreciate from research that many victims of domestic abuse do not recognise the abuse or just do not want to be labelled as “victims”.

The Home Office and every police force has a “Positive Intervention Policy”. The police are encouraged to make decisions on behalf of people in order to protect anyone vulnerable as best as they can and ensure that any criminal acts are identified and suspects detained.

Because of the nature of these events, it may well be that officers did give an explanation but we all know that trauma can affect the way people absorb information. Hopefully you are reading this after events have calmed down and are in a better position to digest it.

What are the police there for?

Domestic disturbances have long been something that police officers attend. On average, there is a call every 30 seconds in the UK either from the address itself, concerned neighbours, worried friends, troubled colleagues or just passers-by who can hear a disturbance. Whoever calls, it matters not, the police will always attend quickly and try to bring some order.

The principle aim of the police is public protection and that includes everyone they come across being as safe as possible. It is important to be honest with them about your situation. Despite what you may think, or have been told, they are not there to create more problems but to deal with the ones that caused them to attend. They will ask you a set of specific questions regarding your situation and discuss what options are available for you. They will also signpost you to the local specialist services or national helplines.

In addition they are responsible for the investigation and prosecution of any criminal activity which they uncover. They should deal with suspected crime robustly and intervene to investigate. If there is no criminal behaviour suspected or alleged, they can also resort to injunctions and protective measures if they feel someone is at risk of serious harm. They will be expected to record all the details of every incident.

If they have arrested someone at your home suspected of having committed a crime against you or someone else, they will need to investigate. This will mean that they speak to everyone at the house and this may be the start of a Criminal Justice Pathway. Help and support is available for you from police and local specialist services.We have broken this pathway down into 4 steps, as the process can be complex and vary from one case to another. The following chart gives a general overview of this pathway. Each phase you pass through will lead to the next.

Click the buttons below to look at each stage in more detail.

Phase 1: Initial Attendance & Intervention

Phase 2: Investigation & Welfare

Phase 3: Prosecution & CPS

Phase 4: Courts, Trials & Welfare

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