Police Officers Do Not Need More Training; But Different Training. Policing Domestic Violence and Abuse Involving Children: A Rapid Review

Annemarie Millar, Michael Saxton, Carolina Øverlien, Ruth Elliffe

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Abstract

Although the police have been identified as a key service provider when responding to domestic violence and abuse (DVA), very few studies have investigated their response in relation to children. This review aims to examine children’s experiences of police response in the context of DVA and to explore how the police understand and respond to children living with DVA. A rapid review of the empirical literature on the police response to DVA involving children was undertaken. PsycINFO, Web of Science and ProQuest were searched. Studies with a qualitative element, concerning children under 18 with experience of police involvement, or police experiences of children, in the context of DVA were included. The final sample comprised of six studies. Using reflexive thematic analysis, four key themes emerged in relation to children: children’s experiences of DVA; fear, uncertainty, and mistrust of police; confronting “childism”: a matter of children’s rights; and going beyond empathy: equality and justice. Regarding the police, three key themes emerged: variability in police response; limited view of police role; lack of professional competence. The findings underscore the need for awareness raising and an urgent review of the training officers receive regarding the impact of DVA on children. They also highlight the pivotal role of police when responding to DVA where children are present, as well as to advance the frontiers of research by including not only adults and professionals but also the most vulnerable DVA victim: the child.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Family Violence
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 07 Oct 2021

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