Labour warn over levels of domestic violence prosecutions

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper

Action against domestic violence in West Yorkshire is “disintegrating”, Labour has warned – after a big fall in prosecutions and convictions.

The Opposition leapt on figures showing an 8.5 per cent drop in the number of people convicted in two years, from 2,877 to 2,632.

At the same time, the number of prosecutions in West Yorkshire has fallen even further – by 14.2 per cent, from 4,236 to 3,634.

Yet the number of domestic violence incidents reported to the force actually rose, between 2010/11 and 2012/13, by 8.3 per cent.

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said the blame lay with Home Secretary Theresa May, which had slashed police funding.

She said: “The scale of abuse is shocking, yet the Government and the Home Secretary have turned their backs.

“This is not a fringe issue. It accounts for one in five violent crimes committed across the country, with two million victims every year. It puts lives at risk.”

Labour also highlighted similar falls in court actions against suspected rapists since the last general election, including in West Yorkshire.

In 2010/11, prosecutions were pursued after 26.8 per cent of reported offences and convictions obtained in 16.6 per cent of cases.

But those proportions had fallen to 17 per cent and 12.3 per cent respectively by 2012/13, according to the official figures.

However, West Yorkshire policedefended their record, suggesting its campaigns had encouraged more victims to make complaints.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Atkinson said: “We are increasing training for officers attending domestic violence incidents, to increase the likelihood of successful prosecutions. Police are also working closely with partner agencies in order to make both the investigation and subsequent court process less traumatic for the victim.”

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