Local Liberal Democrats are calling for the role of Police & Crime Commissioner to have a greater part to play in tackling domestic abuse.
Nicola Davies, the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Warwickshire in May’s Police & Crime Commissioner elections is backing the party’s policy that would make ‘progress made on preventing and prosecuting domestic violence’ one of the key performance indicators for Police and Crime Commissioners and covering this area in PCC annual reporting. Nicola is calling on all candidates to commit to this in order to do more on tackling domestic abuse.
The policy was written by local Liberal Democrat Elizabeth Adams, who was the party’s Parliamentary Candidate for Stratford-on- Avon in last year’s general election. Elizabeth worked with national domestic violence charities when writing the policy after having been a victim of domestic violence herself.
Nicola explained, “Figures show there were over 7,000 calls to Warwickshire Police regarding domestic violence, which equates to around 19 a day, between April 2014 and March 2015. This is a serious problem that is happening to our neighbours, in our communities.
“The storyline in the Archers has opened many eyes to the fact that rural communities are not exempt from problems involving domestic abuse. We need to ensure that the role of Police & Crime Commissioner has a defined role to play in tackling abuse in order to make sure the role is accountable when progress is not made.
“As we are seeing more powers over funding and appointing service providers, transferred from Westminster to the Police Commissioners, it is important that issues involving multi-agency approaches, such as tackling domestic abuse, are given a specific focus, with full figures included in annual reporting.
Elizabeth Adams, the author of the policy added, “Current data from the government shows that between April and December last year, around a third of all ‘violence against the person’ offences were flagged as being related to domestic abuse. It is a cancer to our society.
“One of the biggest problems at government level is that tackling abuse is an issue that spans across different departments. This can create difficulty when a minister is in place who doesn’t see it as their responsibility and who can’t be held accountable. By making sure that Police Commissioners have specific responsibilities for this, we can ensure some of the leadership necessary to make better progress, at a more local level.
“The policy also places a focus on prevention, which is currently neglected. There is so much more that could be done to help victims spot signs of abuse and to have the skills and knowledge to stop the situation worsening, if they find themselves in that position”
The full policy can be found at pages 48-49 here (please note: this is an un-amended version. The policy motion was passed with a short amendment that added an extra policy point around tackling FGM, but this did not alter the point relating to PCCs): http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/libdems/pages/2017/attachments/original/1390843645/Aut13_Agenda_for_web2.pdf?1390843645
Provisional data 4 from the police for the 9 months from April to December 2015 show that 'violence against the person' offences were the most likely to be flagged (Figure 4) with around a third (33%) of such offences flagged as domestic abuse. The offence group with the next highest proportion of offences flagged as domestic-abuse- related was sexual offences (12%). – Figures available here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/yearendingdecember2015
ONS figures relating to calls to Warwickshire police were detailed earlier this year. Report in Coventry Telegraph available here: http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/domestic-abuse- reported-west- midlands-10916915
Latest PCC Annual Report available for Warwickshire. No actual figures detailing amount or any reduction of offences relating to domestic violence are given in the relevant section(s), which is what the policy calls for - http://www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/PCC-annual- report-2015.pdf