Domestic violence: coalition has 'turned its back' on victims

Jul 28, 2014

Yvette Cooper demands tougher action as abusers are 'not being brought to justice'

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, has spoken out about domestic abuse, accusing ministers of "turning their backs" on victims of violence in the home. 

The opposition said more than 10,000 abusers have not faced justice due to increases in the use of so-called "slap-on-the-wrist" community resolutions.

These resolutions involve offenders admitting their guilt and apologising to the victim. But Labour says that the measures were introduced to punish first-time offenders of low-level crimes such as vandalism, not to tackle serious forms of abuse.

West Midlands Police said community resolutions "mean children and adults with no previous convictions need not be criminalised for one stupid mistake".

The use of community resolutions to deal with cases of domestic violence has more than doubled in the last four years, according to information provided by 15 police forces, quoted by Cathy Newman in the Daily Telegraph.

Labour says it plans to introduce tough new laws to deal with domestic violence, promising to appoint a commissioner to oversee "national standards", the BBC reports.

Campaigners argue that forcing an offender to apologise does nothing to tackle the cycle of abuse.

"Anyone with experience in domestic violence knows that most perpetrators regularly apologise," Jane Keeper from the domestic violence charity Refuge told Sky News. "It's a feature of the violence, they abuse, batter, they control, and in the middle of it, every now and again, they say sorry and they'll never do it again".

A Home Office spokesperson said the government was already conducting a review into the use of community cautions but argued that "no government has done more to tackle the abhorrent crime of domestic abuse than this government".

Cooper argued that the government's efforts in tackling domestic abuse don't go far enough. "Two women are killed by their partner or ex each week. If this happened at football games there would be a national outcry," the shadow home secretary told BBC's Radio 4.

Cooper's plan for tougher punishment for domestic abusers comes amid calls from victims' charities for Conservative MP David Ruffley to step down, after it was revealed he received a police caution for assaulting a former partner.

At least 88 women in the UK have been killed by suspected male violence so far in 2014, 38 of those were allegedly committed by a partner or ex-partner, according to the campaign Counting Dead Women.  

Sign up for our daily newsletter