Policing Family Violence: Guidelines Versus Practice on the Use of Interpreters
Howes, LM, Policing Family Violence: Guidelines Versus Practice on the Use of Interpreters, Abstracts for the Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 5th Biennial International Conference, 15-17 July 2019, Gold Coast, Queensland (2019) [Conference Extract]
Family violence now has a prominent place on the Australian policing agenda. Improving the ways that police work with interpreters in family violence cases is necessary to enhance access to justice for people with limited proficiency in English. The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence heard of regrettable police responses that would likely result in decreased help-seeking by victims from police. For example, police had not believed victims or had asked perpetrators to interpret for victims who had limited English proficiency. Codes of practice for the policing of family violence are regularly revised to reflect emerging best practices in the field, but there remains a policy-to-practice gap. This presentation outlines the findings of a study in which police officers in two Australian jurisdictions discussed their experiences of working with interpreters. Findings suggest several reasons that explain why it can be difficult for police to adhere to recommendations and guidelines about working with interpreters in practice. These include a lack of available interpreters in languages of need and limited training on how to work effectively with interpreters. The presentation identifies some avenues to explore further in practice and research. The use of technology to facilitate interpreter-assisted interactions and targeted training on an as-needs basis offer promising developments.
interpreters, family violence, guidelines, practice