Do the police use restorative justice in cases of domestic abuse? Including for intimate partner abuse? What about community resolutions – are they also used? If they are, isn’t this contrary to official College of Policing guidance?
These are some of the questions my colleagues Nicole Westmarland, Kelly Johnson and I ask in our research which – for the first time – investigates the extent to which the police are using restorative justice and community resolutions – what we call ‘out of court resolutions’ in cases of domestic abuse. This research has now been published in the prestigious British Journal of Criminology and is available free to download here.
What did we find? We found that in stark contrast to official police guidance, every police force in the UK – except Scotland – used ‘out of court resolutions’ to respond to over 5,000 domestic abuse incidents (including intimate partner abuse) in 2014. Some of these incidents related to offences with sentencing tariffs of up to life imprisonment. Such widespread use of community resolutions and restorative justice – what we are calling out of court resolutions – has been taking place under the radar and contrary to best practice.
What re the implications of our research? Our research findings have immediate implications for policy and practice: first and foremost, the police must stop using these street-level resolutions in cases of domestic abuse and College of Policing and National Police Chief Council guidance needs to be strengthened. We need an open and informed public debate about the role of restorative justice and other alternatives to the criminal justice system for cases domestic abuse.
You can read the full research article which is available for free here.
‘Under the Radar: the widespread use of ‘out of court resolutions’ in policing domestic violence and abuse in the UK‘ (2017) British Journal of Criminology