28 July 2014
Last updated at 04:36
Yvette Cooper will say the government “just doesn’t take violence against women seriously”
Ministers are “turning their backs” on victims of domestic violence, Labour’s Yvette Cooper will say later.
The shadow home secretary will point to “deeply worrying” data suggesting more frequent use of “community resolutions” to handle domestic violence cases.
Ms Cooper will repeat Labour’s promise to ban the use of the resolutions – which can include apologies or compensation – for domestic violence.
The Home Office said using these for serious crimes was “not acceptable”.
Data compiled by Labour from 15 police forces showed there were 3,305 uses of community resolutions for domestic violence in 2013 – up from 1,337 in 2009.
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.
They are aimed at first-time offenders and can be used where there has been an admission of guilt and after the victim’s views have been taken into account.
Advice from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) suggests the method is suitable for crimes such as criminal damage, minor theft and anti-social behaviour.
‘Harder to escape’
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,” she will say.
“That is why Labour is committed to banning their use for domestic and sexual violence.”
‘Full weight of the law’
A Home Office spokeswoman said a review had already been conducted into the inappropriate use of community resolutions.
She also said every police force in England and Wales had been written to by Home Secretary Theresa May instructing them to produce a domestic violence action plan.
“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.
The Home Office is yet to respond to a consultation on the use of out-of-court disposals, which ended in January.
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,” she said.
“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.”
Have you been a victim of domestic violence? Send us your comments. You can email us at [email protected] using the subject line ‘Domestic violence.’
Or get in touch using the form below