Labour’s Yvette Cooper believes that ministers are “turning their backs” on victims of domestic violence.
The shadow home secretary has said “deeply worrying” data suggests that there has been an increase in the use of “community resolutions” to handle domestic violence cases.
The Home Office said using these for serious crimes was “not acceptable”, reports the BBC.
Data compiled by Labour from fifteen police forces reveals that the number of community resolutions for domestic violence in 2013 had risen from 1,337 in 2009 to 3,305.
Community resolutions are used by police to resolve low-level or minor offences through “informal agreement between the parties involved”, instead of through the court system.
In a speech in Birmingham to mark Labour’s summer campaign, Ms Cooper will say community resolutions can be “very effective”, but will say they should not “be used for violent offences, and especially not for domestic violence”.
She will accuse the government, saying it “just doesn’t take violence against women seriously. 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. 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. That is why Labour is committed to banning their use for domestic and sexual violence.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said a review had already been conducted into the inappropriate use of community resolutions. “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,” the spokeswoman said.
Sandra Horley, chief executive of national domestic violence charity Refuge, said the figures on community resolutions were “deeply disturbing”.
“These types of remedies may be effective for some crimes – but domestic violence is not one of them. When women make the extraordinarily brave step of reporting their partners to the police, they must feel confident that they have the full weight of the law behind them.”
Hilary Fisher, of the charity Women’s Aid, said: “Women tend not to call and ask for help until they’ve experienced violence for over five times, sometimes up to 30 times.”
She said weak punishments would not deter these serial perpetrators who would think “if the police don’t take it seriously why should I?”
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