Coalition has turned its back on scale of domestic violence says Yvette Cooper
Senior Labour MP says more needs to be done about fact that two women a week are killed by their partners or ex-partners.
The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, has accused the government of turning its back on the scale of domestic violence in the UK, saying there would be a national outcry if two people a week the number of women killed by their partners or ex-partners were murdered at football matches.
The senior Labour MP will make a speech on Monday criticising the use of out-of-court settlements in thousands of cases involving domestic violence.
Senior police say these “community resolutions” are only used in low-level disputes, but Cooper said there had been 10,000 cases since 2010 in which they have been used in relation to violence in the home.
“I have talked to police officers across the country who say something very different,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “Remember that two women a week are still killed by a partner or an ex. If you had that level of violence at football matches or in town centres across the country there would be a national outcry. Very many of those victims have contacted the police time and time again before they are killed.
“Don’t you think we should be doing something much more to intervene earlier? That’s why the Labour party would bring in new legislation on not just violence against women but wider domestic violence, sexual violence, and why we would bring in national standards across the board – a new commissioner to cover sexual and domestic violence to make sure that those standards are met and make sure that we don’t have these problems where people get a slap on the wrist for something which is actually a very serious crime.”
Cooper is to draw attention to the problem in a speech highlighting the choice for voters between a Labour government pledging to tackle domestic abuse and the Conservatives “downgrading action on violence against women”.
Labour confirmed it would look at introducing a specific offence of domestic violence in an effort to increase the falling prosecution rate in such cases, though it would be careful not to set the parameters too wide and risk criminalising arguments between couples.
Cooper’s speech in Birmingham will also highlight the drop in prosecutions and convictions for rape, child sex offences and domestic violence, even though reported offences are going up. She will also criticise the loss of 9,000 frontline, visible police officers and the government’s refusal to introduce compulsory sex education to teach zero-tolerance of violence against women.
Labour has promised to bring in a violence against women and girls bill that would end the use of community resolutions in cases of domestic violence. These orders for a perpetrator to agree a penalty with the victim, such as an apology or compensation, allow those who commit minor crimes to avoid a criminal record.