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Keeping safe

Criminal justice

If you call the police

Always call 999 in an emergency so the police can provide immediate help.

They may arrest your partner if he or she has committed a criminal offence against you. It's their decision whether to arrest your partner and you shouldn't feel you're responsible for this decision.

Neighbourhood Police Units

You can also contact your local Neighbourhood Police Unit for support. NPUs specialise in what's known as 'hate crime' (including domestic violence) and they can support you in finding ways to keep you safe.


If they are called out to you the police will take a statement from you (ie write down the details of what happened). You will be asked to sign to say it is true. The police will gather other evidence that may be available such as medical records or statements from neighbours. They may also take photographs of your injuries.

Withdrawing charges

You may have heard that you can 'withdraw the charges' but you can't. It's the decision of the police to press charges and the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service whether to prosecute. The only action you take is to withdraw your statement. If there's still enough evidence of the crime, your abuser may still go to court.

If your violent partner is arrested

If your partner is arrested they will be taken to the police station and if charged they may be released on bail while the police complete their investigation. Usually, there will be conditions attached to bail such as an order to stay away from you and to not communicate with you either directly (eg in person or by phone) or indirectly (eg by sending messages via someone else). If they ignore these conditions they can be arrested and may be kept in custody until the court case.

If your partner pleads guilty

If your partner pleads 'guilty' you won't have to go to court. You may be asked to give a 'victim impact statement' to describe the effect the abuse has had on you. This would be considered when deciding the sentence.

If your partner pleads not guilty

If your partner pleads 'not guilty' you may have to go to court to give evidence. If this happens you may find it useful to contact an organisation like Victim Support who can answer any questions you may have. The Crown Prosecution Service may also arrange to meet with you before the court case to find out if there are things they can do to help you give evidence.


If your partner is harassing you (calling you every five minutes, coming round uninvited etc) you can report it to the police and they can issue them with a formal caution under the Protection of Harassment Act. If your partner doesn't stop after being cautioned they can be arrested and could face up to five years in prison.