A measure of trust - How WA Police evaluates the effectiveness of its response to family and domestic violence
The Community Development and Justice Standing Committee (the committee) announced an overarching Inquiry into Methods of Evaluating WA Police Performance. On 20 May 2015, the Committee resolved that the second focus area of the inquiry would be how WA Police evaluates whether it is providing adequate protection to the victims of family and domestic violence. The Committee set out to answer three key questions:
- How does WA Police measure progress in this area?
- How do others perceive their performance?
- How should they be measuring their performance to align with best practice?
The Committee also formulated specific terms of reference related to performance measures, victims’ perceptions of police, training, and the use of technology.
In the absence of a comprehensive set of indicators, the committee was only able to assess the performance of WA Police by drawing on the perceptions of victims and service providers. Many victims and domestic violence service representatives informed the committee that police responses to family and domestic violence incidents were inconsistent. Some police officers responded sensitively and appropriately and were considered to be doing excellent work. There were others for which the opposite was true. The committee argued that victims of family and domestic violence need to know that their call will be attended to in a timely, appropriate and consistent manner, regardless of who they are, where they may be and which officer responds.
There was also criticism of the completion of Domestic Violence Incidents Reports (DVIRs), with police allegedly failing to record vital information. The inclusion or absence of these details influences the risk assessment of a case by the Family and Domestic Violence Response Team (FDVRT). The committee also heard from many support services that WA Police does not consistently take breaches of VROs seriously.Given that policing consumes a large proportion of the State budget, the committee argues that there is a strong imperative to ensure that WA Police performance is adequately evaluated. The introduction of the Frontline 2020 policing reforms (which saw the number of specialist domestic violence officers assigned to the Victim Support Units halved, with all officers expected to respond to domestic violence) strengthens this obligation.
According to the committee, WA Police includes a KPI in its annual report which measures the percentage of incidents processed within a particular time-frame. But this does not indicate how satisfied victims were with the response, and hence their willingness to go to police in the future. The independent community satisfaction survey reported on in the WA Police annual report has no specific focus on family violence victims either. The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services, has no specific indicators for family and domestic violence. Likewise, the annual National Survey of Community Satisfaction with Policing does not have a specific measurement of the experience and perceptions of victims of family and domestic violence.
The Committee expressed concerns regarding the WA Police’s intention to use the monitoring and evaluation framework set out in the Freedom from Fear action plan to guide its own evaluations because, among other things, the monitoring and evaluation framework set out in Freedom from Fear is extremely lacking in terms of specifics, and also provides no timeline for when the “work in progress” will be finalised.
In concluding, the Committee states that police should commit to developing a set of measures within a suitable timeframe; and concludes that specialised, targeted training was the best way of increasing the effectiveness and professionalism of police responses to family and domestic violence.
Read the Report