Labour’s Yvette Cooper has put forward an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill calling for a new category of offender, to include perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalking who are “high risk” or who repeatedly abuse victims. The bill is currently in committee stage in parliament and was considered by MPs last week.
Serial stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators should be monitored using the existing violent and sexual offenders register (Visor), Ms Cooper says.
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Ms Cooper told The Independent: “Domestic abuse and stalking destroy lives, and there are too many heartbreaking stories of people who have suffered terribly or even lost their lives as a result of domestic abuse by someone who had committed similar atrocious crimes before.
“That is why we need much stronger action against serial abusers who go from victim to victim but no one properly joins the dots so not enough is done to protect future victims or prevent future abuse.
“We want to see a similar approach applied to the one used with sexual and serious violent offenders – to identify serial abusers and stalkers and the action needed to protect others from them in future.”
Visor is what the College of Policing calls the dangerous persons database; the national management tool contains intelligence on sexual offenders, violent criminals who have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, and other people considered a threat to the community.
Laura Richards, an expert who helped Ms Cooper draw up the amendment, claimed registering domestic abusers in the same way was supported by charities and local police commissioners.
The former top Metropolitan Police violent crime analyst said her work at Scotland Yard from 2001 to 2004 had shaped her understanding about the “evolving and escalating abuse” of serial domestic violence offenders, stalkers and serial killers. Ms Richards also helped develop the domestic homicide review process in the early 2000s and is a former adviser to the National Police Chiefs Council.
She told The Independent: “I realised most of the offenders have a history of domestic abuse. It is a pattern of behaviour that is routinely ignored and dismissed time and time again.
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“Shana Grice, Janet Scott, Pearl Black, Lina Kenza, Maria Stubbings, Keri McAuley, Molly McLaren, Hollie Gazzard, Justene Reece, Kirtsy Treloar, Jane Clough, Alice Ruggles, and Linzi Ashton were murdered by serial perpetrators who had been violent and abusive to other women before they killed them.
“I have worked on many cases over the years with the same failures and the same patterns. When women and girls report the known men who abuse them and the perpetrator’s behaviour is left unchecked, despite the fact they may have abused multiple women.
“The same mistakes are repeated – which is tantamount to institutional incompetence. Men who are capable of abusing the person they love the most are often capable of abusing others.”
Ms Richards further warned of a “gender bias and deeply internalised misogyny” she said was prevalent across professional bodies and wider society.
She said she had been calling for a serial offenders register since 2004.