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Prevalence and patterns of domestic abuse victimisation in an English police workforce

Brennan, Iain; Couto, Leticia; O’Leary, Nicola



Perhaps more than any other occupation, police witness the context and aftermath of domestic abuse but little is known about the police-victim overlap with regard to domestic abuse. This paper, based on survey responses from approximately one-quarter of the workforce in an English police force (weighted n = 876) addresses this gap. In the survey, respondents described personal characteristics, colleague and personal experience of domestic abuse victimisation. Weighting the data to address non-response patterns, we found lifetime prevalence of domestic abuse in the police workforce around 22%. Females were more likely than males to experience domestic abuse (relative risk (RR) 1.61, confidence interval (CI) 1.25–2.08). Of victims, 47% disclosed their victimisation to a colleague, while 37% disclosed to a line manager and 27% were abused by a partner who also worked in policing. Although there was no difference in disclosure between males and females, disclosure to a colleague (RR 1.66, CI 1.24–2.13) or a line manager (RR 1.79, CI 1.24–2.58) was more likely if the abuser worked in policing. This paper–the most comprehensive description of domestic abuse victimisation in a policing population–demonstrates that, despite their occupational role as guardians and enforcers of the law, the police workforce experience domestic abuse in similar ways as do the general population. As with the general population, this frequency of victimisation, coupled with the repetitive and continuous nature of domestic abuse and the harm it causes, represents a widespread problem and threat to the wellbeing of the police workforce.


Brennan, I., Couto, L., & O’Leary, N. (2023). Prevalence and patterns of domestic abuse victimisation in an English police workforce. Policing and Society,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 21, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 13, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Mar 24, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 27, 2023
Journal Policing and Society
Print ISSN 1043-9463
Electronic ISSN 1477-2728
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Domestic abuse; Policing; Victimisation; Police-perpetrated crime
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Copyright Statement
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent

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