Police perpetrated domestic abuse: Report on the Centre for Women’s Justice super-complaint


In March 2020 the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ), working with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, submitted a super-complaint alleging that forces were not responding appropriately to cases of domestic abuse involving police officer or police staff suspects.

The CWJ submission describes 11 overarching concerns or ‘themes’ relating to how forces respond to cases of police perpetrated domestic abuse:

  • difficulties in initial reporting;
  • failures in investigation;
  • improper manipulation of police processes;
  • improper responses to complaints/concerns;
  • accused officers’ personal links with others in the force;
  • accused officers using their police knowledge, status and powers;
  • improper decisions on criminal charges;
  • incorrect approach to misconduct investigations and decisions;
  • abused women arrested;
  • employment difficulties for women who are police officers; and
  • workplace victimisation of women who are police officers.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), the College of Policing and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) have published a report in response to this super-complaint.

This joint investigation found that forces are not fully recognising and responding to the risks and responsibilities associated with domestic abuse allegations involving police suspects. It is vitally important that forces both respond robustly to such cases and are seen to do so.

The report includes a series of recommendations aimed at better investigations and better protection of victims in these cases.

What is a super-complaint?

A super-complaint is a complaint that “a feature, or combination of features, of policing in England and Wales by one or more than one police force is, or appears to be, harming the interests of the public” (section 29A, Police Reform Act 2002).

The system aims to examine problems of local, regional or national significance that may not be addressed by existing complaints systems. The process for making and considering a super-complaint is outlined in the Police Super-complaints Regulations 2018.

Super-complaints provide a voice for designated bodies to raise concerns on behalf of the public. They can include patterns or trends in policing that are, or appear to be, harming the interests of the public.

College of Policing and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) are responsible for assessing, investigating and reporting on police super-complaints. We have collaborated on the investigation and on drawing conclusions.

Read the report on GOV.UK

Report on the Centre for Women’s Justice super-complaint on the force response to police perpetrated domestic abuse

Get the press release

Police must improve how they respond to domestic abuse allegations against officers and staff