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Domestic violence killings ‘reach five-year high’

‘[Police] simply just don’t have the resources,’ Labour MP says

Zamira Rahim
Friday 13 September 2019 12:08 BST
Domestic violence linked murders have hit a five-year high.
Domestic violence linked murders have hit a five-year high. (Getty iStock)

Jess Philips has said police forces and the CPS are unable to cope with incidents of domestic violence, after new figures revealed murders linked to such cases had hit a five-year high.

One hundred and seventy three people were killed in domestic-violence related murders last year in the UK, according to statistics obtained from 43 police forces by the BBC.

According to the data, 165 domestic killings occurred in 2014, 160 in 2015, 139 in 2016 and 141 in 2017.​

“The police do take this crime seriously by and large,” Ms Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, told the Today programme.

“However they simply just don’t have the resources to do what they may have done previously.

“If women trying to escape can’t get into refuge it doesn’t matter how cracking the laws are ... they are merely words printed on goatskin.

“The whole system over the past five, 10 years has been totally degraded.

“[Violence] peaks and troughs when we degrade our housing, when we degrade our economy ... especially police responses.

“I have to say I think it’s because of a police force and a CPS that cannot cope. And the government are responsible for that.”

Sophie Walker, the founder of the Women’s Equality Party, said austerity was partly responsible for the rise in murders.

“Ten years of austerity and the endless Brexit vanity project: women are being brutalised and killed while funds to vital services and advocacy groups are cut and the boys’ club argues over their own power,” she said on Twitter.

“For shame.”

The rise in domestic violence killings comes as passage of new legislation on the issue was halted because of parliament’s suspension.

The Domestic Abuse Bill was introduced in parliament in July.

It would have provided better protection for survivors fleeing violence by placing a legal duty on councils to provide secure homes for them and their children.

The proposals would also introduce the first legal government definition of domestic abuse, which would include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour.

The bill’s passage has currently been halted because parliament is closed but the prime minister has pledged to pass legislation on domestic violence.

“Domestic abuse shatters lives and tears families apart,” Boris Johnson tweeted on Thursday.

“We are fully committed to tackling this horrific crime – which is why the Queen’s Speech will confirm we will be reintroducing domestic abuse legislation in the next session.”

Mr Johnson suspended parliament on 10 September.

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The government said it was "taking action to restore public confience in the justice system" by recruiting 20,000 more police officers.

“These tragic cases are a stark reminder of the devastating impact of domestic abuse and we are determined to do more to protect victims and bring more perpetrators to justice," said Victoria Atkins, minister for Safeguarding and Vulnerability.

“We are also taking action to restore public confidence in the justice system by recruiting 20,000 more police officers and reviewing sentencing to make sure violent offenders are properly punished.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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