I believe that the current criminal justice system is failing the victims of domestic abuse. We know that people experiencing domestic abuse often delay incidents of common assault to the police. Sometimes that is because they feel traumatised or unsafe and sometimes it may be because they have an ongoing relationship with the perpetrator.
However, because of the six-month time limit on charging summary common assault offences, by the time that people have the courage to come forward to speak to the police, they may be told that the charging time limit has passed and that there are no further opportunities for them to seek justice against their perpetrator. I fully support extending the time limit for bringing charges of domestic violence by victims of abuse.
My Opposition colleague, Yvette Cooper, tabled an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which sought to enable the time limit for bringing summary proceedings for an offence of common assault or battery involving domestic abuse to be extended to two years.
In response to this amendment, on 5 July, the Home Office Minister said that the Government will look into the issue and return with a proposal at a later stage. This has been welcomed by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner. However, given the Government’s poor track record in this area, I am sceptical and will follow any developments closely.
In April, my Opposition Colleagues and I voted to place serial domestic abusers and stalkers on the current Violent and Sex Offender Register (Visor). However, the Government voted against this initiative and defeated it.
Regardless of whether it will be a Government-backed amendment or Yvette Cooper’s original amendment, I can assure you that I will support extending the time limit for bringing charges of domestic violence