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Working effectively with police

Last edited: December 23, 2011

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  • Collaborating with police to train dispatchers, patrol officers, and police chiefs at every level on issues of gender-based violence, investigative techniques, arrest and charging issues, evidence questions, weapon confiscation, and victim protection.
  • Ensuring that police:
    • Use proper investigative and search techniques so that evidence will be admissible in court. For example, the use of head cameras in United Kingdom is limited to uniformed police and in situations with a policing purpose or an evidentiary need. The subsequent care and keeping of recordings is regulated by Home Office guidelines as well.
    • Conduct detailed, private, and respectful interviews of parties and witnesses. Female officers should interview survivors.
    • Fully complete a report about each incident of violence.
    • Conduct follow-up interviews with victims and witnesses for additional information and new photographs.
    • Understand applicable laws on violence against women, including the elements of the crime and special criminal procedures applicable to these offenses.
    • Understand and apply the concept of self-defense to the facts of an incident of domestic violence before making an arrest. Self-defense should include defense not only of self, but of others and property. Incidents where a person uses reasonable force in defense of themselves or others should not result in arrest of that person.
    • Consult experienced police detectives and forensic health care professionals where available to help distinguish between offensive and defensive injuries.
    • Use all available means to identify and arrest only the predominant aggressor in cases where complaints are received from two or more persons involved in a domestic violence incident. Adapted from: National District Attorneys Association’s Policy Positions on Domestic Violence, USA, 2004.

Tools for Working with Police:

See the Security Sector Module on the Virtual Knowledge Centre.

“She Hit Me Too” Identifying the Primary Aggressor: A Prosecutor’s Perspective (Strack, 1998). English

Domestic Violence Handbook for Police and Crown Prosecutors in Alberta (Alberta Justice Communications, 2008). Available in English.

Intimate Partner Violence Victims Charged With Crimes: Justice and Accountability for Victims of Battering Who Use Violence Against Their Batterers (Greipp, Meisner, and Miles, 2010). Provides steps necessary to determine whether a defendant charged with domestic violence is in fact a victim and how to evaluate self-defence and predominant aggressor analysis. Available in English.

Improving Law Enforcement Investigation Techniques: a Curriculum (Advocates for Human Rights, 2003). Available in English