Police often discourage victims from reporting domestic violence: report
The police often discourage people who want to report domestic violence, Pointer found after speaking to several family lawyers, police officers, and victims of domestic violence. Victims especially find it difficult to file a report if there is little evidence.
In the past year, the police did not want to record a report of domestic violence in dozens of cases, family lawyers said to Pointer. “Many of my clients can’t file a report,” Jolande ter Avest, a family lawyer in Utrecht, said to the program. “Then I have to call to make sure the police records the report.”
Ter Avest always urges her clients to file a police report. “Although such a report is only one side of the story, it does give an impression. In addition, if something happens to this person, the police know there is a history of domestic violence.”
A spokesperson for the National Police acknowledged that victims might sometimes get the impression that the police discourage their report. “Anyone who is a victim of a criminal offense can always report it. But, we do discuss with people what the goal is and whether reporting is the right step. For example, someone can want the violence to stop but not for the perpetrator to be prosecuted. Then reporting is not the most effective means.”
Evidence also plays a role, the spokesperson said. For example, the police are less likely to launch a criminal investigation if the victim has no physical injuries and there are no witnesses. “We have to make choices in the reports that we do and do not investigate further. Among other things, the severity of the crime and the chance of a successful investigation are factors that play a role in the decision whether or not to process a report.”
According to Katinka Lunnemann of the Verwey-Jonker Institute, which regularly researches domestic violence, a lot depends on whether the cop you talk to has experience dealing with this type of violence. “It depends on which officer you meet at the counter. A victim may appear confused about events. You do have to ask the right questions. Then, an officer may think it was a normal argument, while there was more going on.”
The Pointer episode on domestic violence will be broadcast on NPO Radio 1 at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday.