This is the archived version of Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner. To view the new website click here
Banner Image

Commissioner welcomes consultation about the criminalisation of domestic violence

16th September 2014

Vera Baird has welcomed the news that there will be consultation about domestic violence being criminalised as an offence in its own right.

The Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, who along with other campaigners has been calling for this for many years, said: “Currently people are prosecuted for individual assaults which is only right, but criminal violence in the home is worse than criminal violence outside as the victim often has nowhere to escape.

“These assaults can go on for many years with the victim becoming oppressed, kept without money and not able to meet family and friends, all affecting the victim’s psychological well-being in addition to being assaulted.”

The Commissioner added: “Sometimes it’s only necessary to hit a victim once to exert continuing unpleasant control over them in the same household. The rest of their conduct is currently ignored by the criminal law when in actual fact it’s the essential nature of the offence.”

Following Theresa May’s announcement today, Vera Baird has raised concerns that shaping an offence of coercive control, as the Home Secretary proposes, will be very difficult.

The Commissioner has urged Mrs May to look at the stalking model as proof of a good working model, saying: “The stalking law is a good model and it’s puzzling that it isn’t used now when identical conduct to the stalking offence is committed within an intimate relationship.”

Mrs Baird added: “The police must continue to take a proactive stance and take on every incident, even if it is a single incident. If a crime has been committed, action needs to be taken. A victim cannot be put at risk waiting to see if another attack happens before action is taken.”

Domestic refuges can give support, advice and be a safe haven for victims but the Northumbria Commissioner said the Home Secretary urgently needed to tackle the nationwide closure of these refuges, adding that if this service was not available, victims had nowhere to go to break the cycle of abuse.

The Commissioner added: “Funding pressure on local government can have an adverse effect on services to support victims which has been seen locally in the north east with the threatened closure of the IDVA service in Northumberland. Thankfully the Leadership of the council realise the value of the service and has committed their support.

“There is little point improving the law if the services victims need are being closed or depleted. The Home Secretary needs to take this important issue to the Chancellor to demand ring fenced funding to support the law and the services that can help ensure victims are properly supported.”