Shadow Home secretary Yvette Cooper has spoken out about domestic violence, telling BBC radio 4: "Two women are killed by their partner or ex each week. If this happened at football games there would be a national outcry."
The Labour MP is due to make a major speech on domestic abuse later on Monday, calling on police to treat domestic violence as a serious crime, rather than using community resolutions, which can involve apologies or compensation in place of prosecution through the court system.
Cooper quoted the stark statistic on Radio 4 after the National Centre for Domestic Violence raised awareness about domestic violence during the World Cup. Instances of abuse increased by 25 per cent after England Games at the 2010 tournament.
Domestic violence is rife in the UK. Police deal with more than 1.1 million or 7 per cent of women and 720,000 or 4 per cent of men as victims of some kind of domestic abuse in the past year according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales. Around 750,000 children grow up having witnessed domestic violence. On average about seven women and two men are killed by their partners every month in England and Wales, according to ONS statistics.
Domestic Violence Statistics
- On average, 2 women a week are killed by a current or former male partner. (Women's Aid)
- One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute. (Women's Aid)
- 143 women died from male violence in 2013 according to charity worker Karen Ingala Smith who launched the campaign "Counting Dead Women" to list all the women alleged to have died because of male violence.
- One in three victims of domestic abuse in Britain is male. (British Crime Survey. There are limitations to this data, some of which are pointed out here)
- More married men (2.3 per cent) suffered from partner abuse last year than married women (1.8 per cent) (British Crime Survey)
- Police deal with more than 1.1million or 7 per cent of women and 720,000 or 4 per cent of men as victims of some kind of domestic abuse in the past year (British Crime Survey)
- Around 750,000 children grow up having witnessed domestic violence.
- Domestic violence went up by 25% after England Games at the 2010 World Cup (National Centre for Domestic Violence)
- Women experience an average of 35 incidents of domestic violence before reporting an incident to the police
Despite these sobering figures, Community Resolutions are increasingly being used as a way of settling domestic abuse cases out of court. 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".
In 15 police forces, the use of Community Resolutions to deal with domestic violence has 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. However Garry Shewan, the Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, told Radio 4 that community resolutions are used in a very small percentage of cases.
Labour are concerned over this, pointing to evidence that shows people rarely call the police the first time violent abuse happens, and so when a complaint is made, extracting an apology from the perpetrator leaves the victims at risk.
Cooper 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."
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."