Violent partners let off with ‘slap on the wrist’ orders, says Labour

Women’s groups say the 'Community Resolution' procedure was never intended to be used for domestic violence

Police are putting at risk thousands of victims of domestic abuse by letting off their violent partners with “slap on the wrist” orders designed to deal with minor crimes, Labour warns today.

Women’s groups say the “Community Resolution” procedure was never intended to be used for domestic violence, and indicates police forces fail to understand its seriousness. Women are abused more than 30 times before they call for help and two women a week are killed by their partners or former partners.

The growing use of Community Resolution as a way of settling domestic abuse cases out of court will be the centrepiece of a major speech by Labour’s shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.

Figures from Labour’s data from 15 police forces show the frequency with which Community Resolution has been used to deal with domestic violence more than doubled in four years. There were 6,861 cases in 2012 and 2013, an average of more than nine a day, compared with 1,337, fewer than four a day, in 2009.

Ms Cooper will argue that 750,000 children grow up having witnessed domestic violence. It is also rarely the case that a woman calls the police the first time she is hit. More often, the assault complained of is the climax of a long pattern of intimidation, and there are fears that simply extracting an apology leaves the victim at risk.

Officially, Community Resolution is there to deal with minor offences, such as “trivial thefts, public disorder, vandalism, and inconsequential assaults”. Ms Cooper believes that their use in domestic violence cases shows the Government “just doesn’t take violence against women seriously”.

She will promise that one of the first acts of an incoming Labour government will be to pass legislation banning Community Resolution to avoid having to take abusive men through the courts. “Domestic violence is an incredibly serious crime,” she is expected to say. “For the police to take a violent abuser home to apologise risks making it worse.”

Polly Neate, the chief executive of Women’s Aid, which runs the 24-hour National Domestic Violence hotline for abuse victims, said: “Perpetrators rarely commit violence once, as is supposed to be the case for instances in which Community Resolutions are designed to be used.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “No government has done more to tackle domestic abuse. It is not acceptable for the police to use out-of-court settlements in this way and the Government is reviewing how they are used.”

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