Policing intimate partner violence: the golden thread of discretion

Barlow, Charlotte orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1362-7131 and Walklate, Sandra (2018) Policing intimate partner violence: the golden thread of discretion. Policing, 14 (2). pp. 404-413. ISSN 1752-4512

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/police/pay001


This paper offers a critical appreciation of pro-arrest-positive policing policies towards intimate partner violence (IPV). It examines the extent to which such policies, and the research associated with them, have operated within a partial understanding of discretion, which has paid detailed attention to the response of the front-line officer and how that response might be changed either by improved training and/or by rule tightening. Such approaches assume that policing IPV is separate and separable from policing other forms of violence(s) and fail to recognize the wider context of the policing task. This paper makes the case for a more holistic understanding of discretion (to include senior officers) as a way of promoting improved responses to IPV. This also means directing attention to policies and practices in relation to IPV to include police engagement with broader agency and societal responses to IPV. This is the point at which a holistic ‘golden thread’ of discretion can be found.

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