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.