Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner has slammed the outcomes for domestic abuse victims in the county as “wholly unacceptable” and will convene a summit so all councils can get together to tackle the problem.
Speaking at the police and crime panel meeting at County Hall in Northampton yesterday commissioner Stephen Mold said prosecutors were not bringing cases to court quickly enough which was leading to poor outcomes for victims.
His comments come at a time when the county’s refuge provision is under threat after it has has had its central government funding pulled. There is a campaign by the Northampton Domestic Abuse Service – formerly Women’s Aid – to raise £100,000.
Commissioner Mold said: “A new area of particular concern is related to the failure rate of domestic abuse cases in Northamptonshire.
“The time it is taking to get these cases to court is having a detrimental effect.
“One case took three years to get to prosecution. If you have been a victim of domestic abuse having to wait that long a time it can mean that people don’t want to go through with it or they get tired.
“The length of time is encouraging the defence to not plead guilty.
“The good news is something is being done about it – next year there will be fast track system.
“But at this moment in time the outcomes for domestic abuse victims is wholly unacceptable.”
There have been 16,427 domestic abuse crimes recorded in the county in the past 12 months, an increase of five per cent on the same time last year.
Daventry councillor Richard Auger said: “There does not appear to be a Northamptonshire domestic abuse violence policy. I don’t think historically we have gripped this up.
“We have too many strands – we need to have this all joined up. We cannot have one refuge closing here and another opening here.
“Can you give us some reassurance that someone is picking this up.”
The commissioner said he would bring a report on domestic abuse back to the panel, which has the responsibility for scrutinising how well he is doing his job.
He said: “Sadly it is not a statutory obligation for anyone and that is the problem here. There are some very real risks that this gets lost with the debate about the two new unitaries.
“We do need refuge provision. It can be paid with housing money if done smartly.
“There are pots of money that people have access to that could make those provisions available. Everybody needs to lean in.
“It needs a collective response. If we are not careful we could have an absurd situation where they are continually at risk. Could I afford to fund it? Not by myself. Everyone has a role to fund it.”
The councillors on the panel will now take the summit idea back to their councils for agreement.