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Increase in domestic homicide underlines urgent need for register

Government must increase resources to 'allow police to have capacity to enforce the law’

Campaigners have renewed demands the Government uses fresh legislation for the introduction of an abusers’ register to help the police better manage risk as domestic violence killings reach a five-year high.

Ministers have been accused of being “unreceptive” to repeated calls to protect victims – despite the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee’s endorsement. There is reportedly a suspicion that the Home Office is not focusing on domestic abuse because it is not driving the increase in violent crime. 

Last October a cross-party parliamentary report recommended domestic abusers and stalkers should be forced to sign a national register like sex offenders “as a matter of urgency”.

Under the proposals, perpetrators would have to register with forces within 72 hours of being convicted or cautioned and have to notify officers if they intend to move house or travel abroad.

Last year, 173 people were killed in domestic violence-related homicides, according to latest police data – an increase of 32 deaths on 2017 – making it the highest figure since 2014.

Three-quarters of victims of domestic killings by a partner, ex-partner or family member were women, while suspects are predominantly male.

An estimated 1.9 million adults experienced domestic abuse in the previous 12 months, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales for the year ending March 2017.

The London Assembly believes a domestic abusers’ register is needed in the government’s draft Domestic Abuse Bill when Parliament returns from being prorogued next month.

The assembly’s campaign follows a joint report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, HM Inspectorate of Probation, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission, which concluded that far too little is being done to prevent domestic abuse.

“We also need to see the Government forthcoming with increased resources so that the police have the capacity to actually enforce the law using all the tools available to them,” said Assembly Labour Group leader Len Duvall.

Responding to data showing the increase in domestic homicide across the UK, the Greenwich and Lewisham member added: “These figures provide the strongest case for better protections for victims of domestic abuse.

“We’ve been warning for some time about the rise in domestic homicide in London, which has mirrored what is going on in the rest of the country.

“I share Londoners’ disgust at the horrendous cases that have made their way into the media.

“The Government hasn’t been very receptive to our repeated calls for the introduction of a domestic abusers register which we believe will help the police better manage risk.

“If it is true that the Home Office refused to focus on domestic abuse because it isn’t driving the increase in violent crime, they should be ashamed of themselves.

“This is insulting to the families of victims, wholly inaccurate, and if we applied that principle to issues such as county lines that may not, proportionately, be hugely contributing to increases in violence, we would be putting lives at risk.

“The Queen’s Speech is an opportunity for the Government to take fresh action to clamp down on domestic abuse.

“The Prime Minister said he will introduce a new bill when Parliament returns – this must go further than the last, not least with the inclusion of plans to introduce a domestic abusers’ register.”

The assembly claims a register would help to minimise violence and loss of life in the future – placing the onus firmly on the offender and also trigger a vital step change in the way we protect victims and their families, particularly children.

Mr Duvall added: “The number of cases of domestic violence in London and around the country which have ended in murder is staggering.

A domestic abusers’ register would place the onus firmly on the offender and also trigger a vital step change in the way we protect victims and their families, particularly children, by giving police officers immediate access to the information they need to manage risk more effectively.

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