How do police officers work with and respond to the gender dynamics of male and female Intimate Partner Violence perpetration?

Research Institution / Organisation

University of Oxford

Principal Researcher

Lucy Trafford

Level of Research


Project Start Date

October 2019

Research Context

​This research seeks to understand the dynamics of domestic abuse and explore how the police understand these dynamics. It will be considered whether gender affects the type and severity of crimes committed, the context in which these crimes occur and perpetrators' interactions with and attitudes towards police officers and the law (the IPV dynamic). Understanding the dynamics of IPV and how they might differ dependent on gender will help to develop more effective and contextualised responses to IPV incidents. Large data set analysis will identify patterns in offender demographics, crimes committed along with their frequency and severity, and the police response. This study will also analyse whether the first UK lockdown, during the COVID-19 pandemic, caused patterns to change in the victim and suspect demographics, IPV incident characteristics and the police response. This is crucial for determining how best to respond to the recent rise in domestic abuse and to understand the spike of domestic abuse cases during lockdown.

This research could benefit the police by helping to understand how best to develop domestic abuse strategies, reduce recidivism, and be at the forefront of tackling domestic abuse nationally. This is an important and topical area of research considering the significant rise in police calls, deaths and calls to charity support networks during lockdown and the development of the Domestic Abuse Bill (Parliament, 2020). As the levels of domestic abuse reports are expected to remain higher than usual following the covid-19 crisis, the Home Affairs Select Committee has explained the need for creative solutions.
It is hoped that understanding IPV dynamics and how these can inform police response will help contribute to developing newly informed methods of understanding, responding to and tackling domestic abuse through Evidence Based Practice - to reduce the negative impact of domestic abuse for generations to come.

Research Methodology

Three stages of data collection and analysis will be conducted, as using multiple forms of data will increase the reliability of my research methods through triangulation (secondary police data and interviews with police officers) and will illustrate links and findings which might not emerge from statistical testing and qualitative secondary data analysis.

Firstly, quantitative methods shall be used to analyse police data recorded for all incidents flagged as involving domestic abuse for the first 6 months of 2019 and 2020 (26,090 incidents). This will identify patterns in offender demographics, crimes committed along with their frequency and severity, and the police response. Then having investigated the dynamics of IPV through data statistics and case file analysis, this research will then contextualise these results through qualitative analysis of case files and interviews conducted with police officers.

Analysis of 34 case files within the second stage (witness statements, victim and perpetrator interviews) will provide specific details of what happens in IPV incidents, demonstrate offenders’ and victim’s behaviour and attitudes towards police officers and the law, while PPN1’s will illustrate how police officers interpret and understand IPV incidents. Analysing DASH assessments will develop an understanding of whether patterns arise in contextual data, victim-offender relationships and the subjective harm suffered by victims.

Thirdly, interviewing police officers from a variety of roles that work with IPV, using semi-structured interview questions, will identify how police officers understand IPV and use this knowledge to navigate the difficulties inherent in policing IPV.

Date due for completion

October 2023
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