DOMESTIC ABUSERS AND STALKERS SHOULD SIGN NATIONAL REGISTER LIKE SEX OFFENDERS, COMMONS REPORT SAYS

Domestic abusers and stalkers should be forced to sign a national register like sex offenders, a cross-party parliamentary report has said.

They should be monitored under the same arrangements as rapists and paedophiles, giving greater protection to victims who live in fear of their tormentors.

The Commons Home Affairs Committee backed calls for a register of serial stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators to be introduced “as a matter of urgency”.

The perpetrators would have to register with the police within 72 hours of being convicted or cautioned and have to notify officers if they intend to move house or travel abroad.

Under the proposals, individuals on the register would be managed through multi-agency public protection arrangements (Mappa), the system used to manage the risks posed by violent and sexual offenders living in the community.

The report says: “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.”

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.”

Laura Richards, founder of Paladin, said it would involve those who have been convicted and those who have offended on two occasions against two separate women.

She welcomed the committee’s support but told the Telegraph that it was now time for the government to act.

“It makes sense that the perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalking should be included in the same framework that is already in place for sex offenders,” she said.

“It is simply an expansion of conditions that are already in place but places the onus on the perpetrator rather than the victim.”

She said the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, or Clare’s Law, was dependent on an individual asking about an offender’s history but that this would ensure offenders were tracked by the police as a matter of course.

In another recommendation, the Committee urged the Government to consult on introducing paid “domestic abuse leave” to help victims keep their jobs and maintain economic independence while escaping abuse.

The 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”.

The findings were set out in a wide-ranging assessment of the Government’s strategy for tackling domestic abuse.

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.

Yvette Cooper, the Labour MP and chair of the Commons 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.”

The Government said improving the management of serial domestic abuse perpetrators and stalkers was high on its agenda, adding that it has been working to examine the current framework in detail and acknowledging the scope to improve information sharing, risk assessment and disclosure.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “The domestic abuse bill is a golden opportunity to transform the lives of survivors and tackle the root causes of domestic abuse once and for all.

“To achieve this, the bill must reflect the reality of survivors’ experiences.”

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.

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