Women condemn violence campaign

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A campaign to combat domestic violence was launched by the Government yesterday, against a background of statistics showing that it now accounts for a quarter of all recorded violent crime, writes Heather Mills.

But the pounds 170,000 publicity campaign was immediately attacked by women's groups and refuge organisations for doing nothing for the victims of abuse in the home.

A spokeswoman for Women Against Rape said: 'It offers little or nothing in the way of services, protection, policing or resources.' The group attacked the Government for its lack of funding for refuges - several had been forced to close.

It also attacked benefit cuts and the Child Support Act which 'forced women back into financial dependence on men'. Lack of money and housing were the two main reasons why four out of five women felt unable to escape violent partners, the organisation said.

Launching the campaign yesterday, David Mclean, a Home Office minister, described the 'prolonged pervasive and devastating effect' of the problem which some research has suggested affects one in four women.

'Domestic violence is a criminal offence. Recognising that fact is the first step to making sure that the criminals who indulge in this awful crime are punished,' he said.

The campaign's message, 'Domestic Violence is a Crime - Don't Stand For It]', will be featured on posters and leaflets in doctors' waiting rooms, police stations and social security offices.