UK & World News

  • 28 July 2014, 8:55

Domestic Abusers 'Not Being Brought To Justice'

The victims of domestic abuse are being failed by the Government because their abusers are escaping justice, claims Labour.

The Opposition says more than 10,000 perpetrators have not faced justice because police forces are wrongly using community resolutions to deal with violence against women.

Community resolutions were introduced to deal with low-level crime such as vandalism and anti-social behaviour. They are supposed to be used as an alternative to ending up in court.

Victims are asked what they would like to see happen - it could end with an apology, compensation or remedial action like cleaning up graffiti.

In the words of West Midlands Police: "Community resolutions mean children and adults with no previous convictions need not be criminalised for one stupid mistake."

But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper claims the use of community resolutions to deal with domestic violence has more than doubled in the past five years from 1,337 in 2009 to 3,305 in 2013.

"These figures are deeply worrying. Domestic violence is an incredibly serious crime. Two women a week are killed by their partner or an ex and 750,000 children will grow up witnessing domestic violence," she said.

"For the police to simply take a violent abuser home to apologise risks making domestic violence worse, and makes it even harder for victims to escape a cycle of abuse.

"Labour has called on the Government previously to prevent the use of Community Resolutions for serious crimes, including domestic violence. Today's figures reveal that nothing has been done."

But the Home Office has rejected Labour's claim that violent partners are escaping justice.

It said: "No government has done more to tackle the abhorrent crime of domestic abuse than this government. Our groundbreaking Claire's Law will help protect women from abusive relationships, while domestic violence protection orders are cracking down on the destructive cycle of repeated abuse.

"It is not acceptable for the police to use out of court settlements for serious criminality and that is why the government is already reviewing how they are used."

But Labour says an inspectorate report "looked at 66 police cases of informal resolution, and judged that the resolution was inappropriate in 14".

Women's charities and campaigners against  domestic violence have backed Labour's claims. They are worried community resolutions trivialise violence against women.

Jane Keeper from Refuge said: "Anyone with experience in domestic violence knows that most perpetrators regularly apologise.

"It's a feature of the violence, they abuse, batter, they control, and in the middle of it every now and again they say sorry and they'll never do it again.

"To have police encouraging this with perpetrators and keeping them away from being held accountable, is just playing right into hands of those who perpetrate violence."