Lancashire police bosses have reacted angrily after the Home Secretary sent the force a “generic” letter criticising how domestic abuse victims are looked after - despite the county’s response being rated among the best in the country.
The political row has erupted after Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) issued a damning report last week which said thousands of people were at risk across the UK because of police failures.
But the HMIC singled out Lancashire Police for praise after it visited the constabulary in November as part of checks on all 43 forces in England Wales.
Inspectors said people in Lancashire “can have confidence that police officers and staff provide a good service to victims in all areas”.
After the report was made public, Home Secretary Theresa May wrote to every police force, describing domestic violence support as “simply not good enough” and victims were being failed.
However, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw and the county’s chief constable Steve Finngan were left angered by the communication and have now sent letters of their own to her office.
Mr Grunshaw, elected as Labour candidate in November 2012, has called on Conservative Ms May to visit Lancashire to see how the police’s public protection unit and others tackle the issue in all its forms.
Mr Grunshaw said: “I was extremely disappointed with both the tone and content of the letter we received from the Home Secretary.
“Lancashire Constabulary was told by HMIC its residents could have “confidence” in reporting domestic abuse, and inspectors praised the force for its investment in “well-trained and specialist staff”. The strength of the work we undertake with our partners was also recognised.
“I am very proud of the work of our Public Protection Unit here in Lancashire, and believe the officers and staff involved should be praised for their performance.
“Therefore, to receive a generic letter which implied police forces across the board were failing victims was extremely disheartening.
“This does not mean I am complacent about the challenge we face in Lancashire when it comes to tackling domestic abuse, and I am committed to ensuring we consistently strive to do more. Domestic abuse is a problem, and there are no easy answers.
“But I believe there are many things we do extremely well, and I feel the Home Secretary should see for herself what HMIC inspectors regarded as the “strongest example” of a good domestic abuse provision.
“I hope she will accept my invitation, and look forward to welcoming her to Lancashire.”
In addition to the areas which were praised, HMIC inspectors made some recommendations for the force, including reviewing staff training to ensure they understand coercive control, stalking, harassment and honour based violence, reviewing the use of body cameras and looking at how the ongoing welfare of repeat victims is monitored.
The force has pledged to act on the recommendations.