Surge in domestic violence cases dealt with through community resolution

Family|July 28th 2014

So it seems domestic violence is back in the news. Did it ever go away? This morning I received a call from the Nick Ferrari Show on LBC Radio. They wanted to know if I would go on air to discuss this perennially recurring topic – in three minutes time! There’s nothing like a bit of notice!

It turned out that they wanted my take on a recent announcement by the Labour Party. A Freedom of Information request issued by the Party brought to light the increasing use of informal ‘community resolution’ in domestic violence cases.

The figures in question show an indisputable trend: the number of domestic violence cases referred for community resolution reached 3305 in 2014, up from just 1337 in 2010. In other words they have more than doubled in four years.

The data was sourced from 15 police forces across the UK.

In ‘community resolution’, people who commit offences apologise for the event, either in writing or in person, or by paying compensation, but they do not receive a criminal record. According to a report in the Telegraph, police guidelines state that the method should only be used for less serious offences.  You cannot help but wonder to what extent the police are breaching their guidelines here.

Labour have announced that they will ban the practice if they return to power next spring. We’ll see if that happens. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, meanwhile, has condemned the figures as “deeply worrying”. 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.”

During my impromptu interview, I made the point that, often overlooked by the media, that both men and women are capable of violence. But there is no doubt, whoever the perpetrator happens to be in a particular case, that domestic violence is a serious and pernicious problem.

Over my years of legal practice, I have seen cases where someone slaps once and never again, but there is, sadly no shortage of spouses who are simply violent by temperament, and leopards don’t change their spot. Unfortunately for their partners!

Such abusers are typically are full of remorse after a bout of violence, tearfully begging for another chance and pleading to be allowed to come back. But when they inevitably lose control again you can be sure that they won’t be stopped because there is a court order in place.

The violence can be severe. I told Nick about a case from my early days as a solicitor when the woman was punched full in in the face and was left with a broken cheek and jaw bone. He did it again after apologising and saying sorry. She withdrew her proceedings for an injunction and she took him back. He did it repeatedly because she was trapped in an abusive relationship and there were children.  Today we came across a case we will cover elsewhere in the blog about a husband/father who is now serving a total of 17 years imprisonment for repeated acts of sexual violence against his wife. He had always been remorseful, but then he began again, showing his wife and elder two children no mercy on his frequent rampages.

My advice to any of Nick’s listeners who might be suffering violent abuse was – if at all possible – get out! Leave a violent relationship as fast as possible. I know it’s never easy. But my experience suggests there is often no choice, and nothing at all to gain by staying. If it happens once it can happen again and a piece of paper from the courts will never stop a determined abuser. He may not stop until his victim is dead.

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  1. Moputabe says:

    Labour have got it all mixed up.

    They are mixing domestic Violence and domestic Abuse. Not a surprise as the domestic abuse/violence industry deliberately mixes these up for effect and funding.

    Community resolution as the Police chap on the Today programme (R4) pointed out is generally used in domestic Abuse cases; the example he gave was a young teenage couple who split up, the teenage boy ripped off the wing mirror of the teenage girls car and that was it. She did not want him prosecuted and he apologised.

    This is clearly bet dealt with under Community Resolution than through the courts.

    If a wife slaps a husband or the other way around, then it is a violent act. However, it is only usually the man who would be prosecuted regarding this domestic Violence, a woman committing the same would likely be ignored or let off because of the usual sexist tosh that only men are the perpetrators and it is apparently ludicrous to prosecute women for such matters.

    So there is a distinction between domestic Abuse and domestic Violence and rightly many times they are dealt with differently.

    Why women are treated differently to men for perpetrating the same offence e.g. more leniently – Can be put down to the prevailing government funded campaigns that only talk about male perpetrators and female victims.

    Glad to hear you at least Marilyn are rightly pointing out that either sex can be victims or perpetrators.

  2. Ruth says:

    Could this increase be linked to the demise of legal aid in family cases? Families appear to be suffering from increasing frustration because of a lack of legal advice and assistance to help them resolve relationship difficulties. I believe this is ultimately leading to violent behaviour. Whilst legal aid is still available for some DV cases, the public generally just don’t seem to know this and those who do struggle to get the evidence required.

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