Put domestic abusers on a register like sex offenders, say MPs

Put domestic abusers on a register like sex offenders, say MPs

Monday, October 22, 2018

Serial stalkers and domestic abusers should be placed on a new national register and monitored under the same arrangements as rapists and paedophiles, according to a Commons report.

MPs backed calls for a strengthened regime to ensure greater protection for victims who live in fear of their tormentors.

Natalie Collins, founder of Spark, a consultancy that advises on tackling violence against women, told talkRADIO it was a “positive step”.

“It puts the responsibility on the perpetrators rather than what the woman should be doing,” she said, and added that the model already existed with the sex offenders register.

“They have the infrastructure with the sex offenders register,” she said.

But not all perpetrators of abuse would end up on the register simply due to the fact they’re not all prosecuted or convicted.

“The problem is the vast majority of offenders [of domestic abuse and sex crimes] don’t get convicted, so people might think ‘oh my partner’s not on there so they’re fine’,” said Ms Collins.

"So people shouldn't put too much weight on what this register says."


'Matter of urgency'

The Commons Home Affairs Committee recommended that a national register of serial stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators be introduced "as a matter of urgency".

Under the proposals, individuals on the register would be managed through multi-agency public protection arrangements (Mappa).

This is the system used by police, probation and prison services to manage the risks posed by violent and sexual offenders living in the community.

The report said: "Stalking is a serious crime which can have a devastating impact on the lives of victims.

"Victims of stalking often endure years of abuse before the crime is taken seriously.

"We were told that existing criminal justice responses were often ineffective in stopping perpetrators."


'Current practice is dire'

Calls for a register have been led by Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service, which told the committee in a written submission: "A radical cultural shift is needed as current police practice is dire and not working.

"The register will save lives and money."

Plans unveiled by ministers earlier this year include new orders to place restrictions such as electronic tagging on abusers, a new statutory definition of domestic abuse including a reference to "economic" abuse, and tougher sentences for crimes that affect children.

The Committee's report flagged up a "desperate shortage" of refuge accommodation and raised concerns that welfare reform policies are making it more difficult for victims to leave their abusers.

It also said that while evidence indicates the police response to victims of domestic abuse is improving, there continue to be instances where it is "inadequate".

Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Committee, said: "Domestic abuse is one of the most dangerous and the most common crimes there is.

"The Government is rightly proposing new legislation and a new strategy, but our inquiry found much stronger action is needed across the board."

An estimated 1.9 million adults experienced domestic abuse in the previous 12 months, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales for the year ending March 2017.