Report highlights: Police responses to domestic and family violence

What the report is about

This audit assessed whether the NSW Police Force has effective systems, processes, resources, and capability to respond to domestic and family violence events in New South Wales.

What we found

The NSW Police Force has almost doubled its domestic violence specialist workforce in the past five years and is conducting higher levels of risk monitoring to check that frontline police comply with domestic and family violence policing procedures.

However, a lack of workload monitoring at a whole of agency level is limiting the ability of the NSW Police Force to assess whether specialist and frontline police are sufficient to manage domestic and family violence demands across all 57 local commands.

Rates of compliance checking of domestic violence events vary across local commands, and there is a lack of system level policy or oversight to guide this activity.

While the NSW Police Force has structured training for probationary constables on domestic and family violence policing practices, it does not monitor training or skill levels of the broader workforce to understand levels of expertise in domestic violence policing.

The NSW Police Force does not have regular or consistent methods for seeking feedback and it has a limited understanding of its service quality from the perspective of victim survivors of domestic and family violence.

Performance reporting on domestic and family violence is limited, with most measures focused on activity counts rather than service quality or outcomes.

What we recommended

Improve workforce and workload data collections, analysis and reporting on domestic and family violence workload volumes and allocations of specialist and frontline police to meet demands.

Structure and resource the domestic and family violence strategic policy function to a level commensurate with workload volumes and risks associated with domestic violence policing.

Review de-briefing protocols, procedures, and resources for police after domestic and family violence incidents.

Improve databases and information systems for recording domestic violence events so that related events and individuals are automatically connected.

Design a procedure to collect, collate, and analyse service user and stakeholder feedback about police responses to domestic and family violence.

Review existing activity measures and targets for domestic and family violence and expand to include performance measures, service quality measures and outcomes reporting.

Review the process for investigating allegations of domestic and family violence against current and former serving police personnel and implement procedures to ensure processes are independent of interested parties and mitigate conflicts of interest.

Fast facts

  • 140,000 calls to police each year for assistance in relation to domestic and family violence
  • 280 domestic violence specialist police in NSW
  • A 145% increase in police compliance checks of Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders from 2018 to 2020.

Further information

Please contact Ian Goodwin, Deputy Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email.