Sunderland charity welcomes plans for tougher sanctions on domestic abusers

Clare Phillipson of Wearside Women in Need
Clare Phillipson of Wearside Women in Need
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DOMESTIC violence campaigners on Wearside have welcomed the news that a future Labour Government would look to introduce stricter sanctions against abusive partners.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the party would appoint a commissioner to oversee “national standards” in cases where offenders avoid prosecution.

Ms Cooper says more offenders are now avoiding court action as “community resolutions” are being used instead.

They are used by police to resolve low-level or minor offences through “informal agreement between the parties involved”, instead of through the criminal court system.

They are aimed at first-time offenders and can be used where there has been an admission of guilt and after the victim’s views have been taken into account.

Director of refuge Wearside Women in Need Clare Phillipson said that community resolutions can often deter victims from telling police about the abuse they have suffered.

“The use of community resolutions is a complicated issue,” said Ms Phillipson.

“But there is a feeling amongst the wider public that the police and criminal courts don’t deal firmly enough with offenders and we are frustrated that, that is the case.”

Ms Phillipson added that she continues to be concerned that the issue of domestic and sexual violence is not highlighted as much as it should be.

“If two men were killed at football matches every week, there would be a huge outcry,” she said.

“Two women are murdered every week in the home through domestic violence so where is the outcry over that?”

A Home Office spokeswoman said a review had already been conducted into community resolutions.

Every police force in England and Wales has been written to by Home Secretary Theresa May instructing them to produce a domestic violence action plan.

The spokeswoman said: “It is not acceptable for the police to use out-of-court settlements for serious criminality and that is why the Government is already reviewing how they are used.”