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Alarm over fall in domestic violence prosecutions
VIOLENT partners are escaping justice across the region because hundreds of police officers have lost their jobs, it was claimed yesterday (Wednesday, September 4).
Labour raised the alarm over new figures showing the number of domestic violence cases referred to prosecutors has plunged by 17.4 per cent in just two years.
The number of successful prosecutions, in the North-East and North Yorkshire, has fallen even further since 2011 – by 20 per cent.
Yvette Copper, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, described the fall in referrals as “shocking and disturbing”, because levels of domestic violence were on the rise.
And she linked the decline to the loss of 15,000 frontline officers under the Coalition, which meant forces were less able to investigate allegations.
Ms Cooper said: “These are shocking and disturbing figures. Perpetrators who would previously have been charged are now getting away with it.
“And this big drop in referrals has all happened since cuts to front line policing started.
“Referrals and prosecutions were going up before the election. But now, fewer police officers are referring fewer domestic violence cases for prosecution - and victims are being let down as a result.”
Ms Cooper said the number of successful prosecutions for domestic violence peaked in 2010-11, arguing important progress made by Labour in tackling the problem was being lost.
The House of Commons figures revealed even steeper falls in referrals and prosecutions in some force areas of the region.
In Durham, referrals plunged by 21.5 per cent, between 2011-11 and 2012-13 (from 1,333 to 1,047) and successful prosecutions by 19.8 per cent (from 885 to 710).
The Northern Echo asked the force to explain why it believed referrals were falling so sharply – and if was concerned – but did not receive a response.
In Cleveland, referrals to the CPS were down by 18.6 per cent (from 1,502 to 1,223), while successful prosecutions fell by 21.4 per cent (from 939 to 738).
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Home Office have already launched an inquiry into why police forces are reporting fewer cases of rape, domestic violence and child abuse.
The outgoing director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, is to meet police chiefs later this month, to discuss whether the police are doing enough to bring cases to court.
The number of domestic violence incidents reported by victims to police rose from 728,145 in 2010-11 to 796,935 in 2011-12 – but no figure is available for 2012-13.
A Home Office spokeswoman defended its record, saying: “Domestic violence, rape and sexual offence prosecutions have reached their highest ever conviction rate for the second year running.
“The systems in place to protect women are working, despite the necessary cuts to police budgets.”
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