Background In December 2012, the province of New Brunswick in Canada released its crime prevention and reduction strategy. A priority area within this strategy is intimate partner violence (IPV). Part of this strategy is to propose an appropriate intervention shared by all police forces (municipal and federal) in the province. In the past three years, police agencies have started implementing their own strategies. In 2013, our research team started a study on various forms of police intervention, how they make a difference in preventing and reducing IPV crimes, and the degree to which such formalised strategies actually inform day-to-day police-response to IPV. The research itself involves a close collaboration with police agencies in New Brunswick.
Methods In 2014, we conducted an on-line survey with police agencies to measure the attitudes and perceptions New Brunswick police officers have with regards to IPV issues. The survey questionnaire was comprised of over 166 questions, including how police officers are perceiving and defining the issue of intimate partner violence. In 2015, a second phase of the research was to review actual police files to capture their actual response to IPV cases in their communities. A sample of 300 closed domestic dispute files from 2014 and 2015 were randomly selected from police files from three different police agencies in New Brunswick.
Results In our study we found three main definitions of IPV used by police officers: the factual forms of violence referring to physical, psychological and verbal, the legal definition related to criminal offences and a social definition reflecting the complexity of the issue such as control, pattern and reciprocity. Research has shown that police officers are responding according to their understanding of the issue. Our study illustrates how the actual intervention to domestic dispute calls is directly impacted by their understanding of the issue.
Conclusions Results from the research project are being used to both prepare an evidence-informed template for IPV intervention for police in New Brunswick and improve training for police officers.
- intimate partner violence
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