Published on August 4th, 2014 |
by Laura Collings
Image © 2010@Russavia http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en no changes made
Domestic Violence in the UK: Are we doing enough?
A number of domestic violence victims are being placed in possible danger as a result of the soft approach taken by police when dealing with complaints, the Labour party has warned. Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary noted in a speech last week that women were being let down due to an increasing number of cases which are being resolved using Community Resolutions.
A ‘Community Resolution’ is deemed to be suitable when a minor offence or anti social behaviour incident has occurred and it sees the parties involved solve the issue informally without the involvement of the courts. Labour claim that an offence as serious as domestic violence should not be privy to such an approach, and most of us would agree that violence towards a current or ex partner should be met with greater investigation. For those men and women who have been the victim of such an attack sitting down to meet an amicable outcome may not feel like justice. Of course there is also the very real concern that letting offenders off with such a lenient process – that in some cases does not even result in a criminal record – may leave victims open to future attacks.
Gary Shewan the Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police has been quick to highlight that perhaps Labour’s focus upon Community Resolutions is somewhat overzealous, as in fact only 1% of domestic violence cases are dealt with in such a way and when we consider there are over 1 million reports of domestic violence each year, it is only a very small amount. Labour and Yvette Cooper deserve credit for raising the issue of domestic violence and challenging the way police are dealing with it. However, it is difficult to see why the focus is so intensely upon the use of Community Resolutions when we are recording numbers into the millions for domestic violence claims.
Statistics of this magnitude are a shocking indictment of not just British society but also ‘our’ society. In a population of 63 million, it is possible that for every 63rd person you walk past in the street, meet at work or see in the supermarket may have experienced some form of domestic violence. It is important to keep in mind that a large proportion of domestic violence cases are not reported, those, which are reported, often do not represent the first time it has happened to the victim.
We absolutely should push to ensure that those who are found guilty of domestic violence receive an appropriate sentence, but we must also seek to take a more holistic approach to the issue as well. That is about addressing domestic violence as a whole and its causes.
Labour and Yvette Cooper have largely referenced the experiences of women at the hands of violent partners. This is understandable as women are still disproportionately affected by domestic violence in comparison to their male counterparts, often holding fewer resources and support networks to get themselves out of violent relationships. One third of all reported cases of domestic violence are, however, experienced by men. Tackling domestic violence should not be built upon gender or designated to just men or women as victims or perpetrators. It should be considered an issue about how we treat others in our society, and the level of violence in our relationships; often in relationships with those we are meant to care the most about.
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