New free Council of Europe HELP online course on Violence Against Women for Law Enforcement Professionals

Law enforcement plays a central role in addressing violence against women and domestic violence and in preventing its re-occurrence. Responses need to be efficient and tailored, within the legal framework, to the needs of victims and the risk of perpetrators.

In responding to violence against women and domestic violence, it is essential that law enforcement professionals are familiar with the human rights dimension of countering violence against women and are trained on an effective victim-centred response to victims and how to interact with perpetrators.

Drawing on the experience of several European police and law enforcement services including Denmark, France, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden, and based on the European main international treaty: the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women (also known as the Istanbul Convention) and the monitoring work of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), the Council of Europe has developed a new online course on Violence against Women and Domestic Violence targeting law enforcement. It can also be used by other first line professionals dealing with cases of violence against women and domestic violence (social or health professionals), civil society organisations, students and other target groups.

Through three substantive new modules, law enforcement professionals can learn theoretical and practical concepts related to violence against women, its many forms and impact in victims and society at large. Participants will also learn guidelines as to how to respond to cases of violence against women and domestic violence quickly and effectively, techniques to interview victims and perpetrators as well as practical steps by first responders, investigators, etc. The course also includes a specific module on assessing and managing the risks for victims of domestic violence, honour-based violence and stalking.

The Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) Programme of the Council of Europe developed an online course on this subject back in 2017 targeting legal professionals. The general HELP course Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence covers in an interactive way the key concepts, the international and European legal framework and case law governing the prevention and protection of women and girls from violence, focusing in particular on the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention. Furthermore, the course provides legal professionals with practical tools for dealing with cases of violence against women and domestic violence with respect to a human rights and victim centred approach.

Both HELP courses on Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence offer a detailed, practical and comprehensive curriculum to improve the quality of the judicial and law enforcement response to violence against women cases and support in the victims’ access to justice. Both courses are intended, in the long term, to become an integral part of the overall learning curricula of the national training institutions and/or other competent authorities of the CoE member States.

This new HELP course was developed jointly by the Council of Europe HELP Programme and the Gender Equality Division and the Violence against Women Division.

Course Structure

The course contains 3 substantive modules and has an estimated learning time of 6 hours.


Module 0: Introduction

Welcome message, navigation instructions, course authors and course target group

Module 1: Understanding Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence

Key concepts and definitions

Violence against women and its different forms

What is domestic violence

Impact on victims

Consequences for society: costs of VAW and DV.


Module 2: Effective law enforcement responses in addressing violence against women and domestic violence

Principles of law enforcement response

Confronting stereotypes and professional bias

First contact with victims

At the scene of the incident/crime

At the police station

Investigation, evidence and reporting to prosecutor


Module 3: Assessing Risk of Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence

Risk assessment

Risk management

Police co-operation



Access the free online course

The course can be accessed by visiting the Council of Europe HELP online platform at:

First you need to open a HELP Platform account if you have not yet done so (2 minutes). Then you can follow this link to directly access the online course:

Upon successfully completing this self-learning course, a HELP statement of accomplishment (a document attesting the successful course completion) can be generated in an electronic format and can be printed by the user.

The HELP course on Violence against Women and Domestic Violence for Law Enforcement is available in English and will be available in additional languages in the future. It will be launched in tutored format in collaboration with interested national institutions.

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