Domestic abusers should be put on a register

Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, has supported a motion of the Assembly calling for a register of domestic abusers. This follows a report into domestic abuse in the capital recently launched by Len Duvall, Leader of the London Assembly Labour Group. The report said tougher checks on perpetrators were needed in order to protect survivors and prevent reoffending. In the year to June 2017, there were nearly 150,000 incidents of domestic abuse in the capital, and 5955 incidents in Enfield and 5463 in Haringey. Yet just over 400 serial cross border offenders are kept on a list for monitoring and tracking by the Metropolitan Police. Ms McCartney said a register could provide a “vital step change” in the way repeat offences are prevented in London.

The number of domestic abuse victims in London has risen from 62,546 in 2014 to 71,926 in 2016, equating to a 15% increase. Domestic abuse now accounts for almost 1 in 10 offences in the capital. In Enfield & Haringey there were 11,418 incidents in the year to June 2017. Whilst changes to legislation in recent years have sought to take more stringent action against perpetrators, Ms McCartney said a more streamlined approach was called for.

Since 2014 the government have brought in Domestic Violence Protection Orders, which ban domestic abusers from returning to a residence and having contact with the victim for 28 days. Criminal Behaviour Orders were brought in at the same time, and, in addition to restraining orders, can also be used to prevent perpetrators from contacting or approaching their victims. 2014 also saw the introduction of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme – commonly known as Clare’s Law after Clare Wood, a woman murdered by an ex-boyfriend in 2009. The disclosure scheme gives individuals the ‘Right to Ask’ about whether a new or existing partner has a violent history; whilst the ‘Right to Know’ element means police can chose to proactively disclose such information without a request. In December 2015, a coercive and controlling behaviour offence came into force, which means such behaviour that occurs between current and former partners or family members can lead to prosecution – and a maximum 5 year sentence – even if it falls short of physical violence.

The Met has also placed a specialised focus on tackling domestic abuse. Operation Dauntless+ involves the tracking of over 400 serial cross-border domestic abuse offenders, each of whom are subject to consideration for a ‘Right to Know’ disclosure.

Yet Ms McCartney says the provisions are “too patchy”. With estimates that 4 in 10 survivors of domestic abuse are repeat victims, Ms McCartney said she was backing calls for more stringent measures to prevent repeat offences. Mr Duvall’s report into domestic abuse in the capital urges the government to introduce a register, equivalent to that used for sexual offenders, to allow the police to hold information on perpetrators and better protect survivors. The register would put the onus on offenders to give the police their personal details, including name and address, and to update with any changes.

Other recommendations set out in the report call on the Mayor of London to work with the Met to re-evaluate the threshold for monitoring serial domestic abuse offenders and to continue to lobby the government for better resources for tackling domestic abuse and other crimes.

Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, said:

“I was pleased to back Labour’s motion supporting his report. Across London, we’re seeing domestic abuse increasing and we need to get serious about how we protect people from these vile acts.

“I recognise that the government have improved the law to allow for tougher action against abusers, but the provision is too patchy and reoffending remains too high.

“It’s time to get tough. We need to send a clear message to anyone committing domestic abuse that the police have them on their radar. I’m backing calls for a register of domestic abusers because I believe it could provide a vital step change in the way we prevent reoffending and protect people from these devastating crimes.”