Vera Baird pledges to tackle the “hidden crime” of domestic abuse


Vera Baird and Yvette CooperVera Baird, Labour’s candidate for Police & Crime Commissioner for Northumbria has today (Tuesday 17 July 2012) pledged to bring in a new approach to tackling domestic violence against women and girls. In 2010/2011 over 28,000 incidences of domestic abuse were reported to police in the Northumbria Force area. 

In the same year, only 3,000 people were prosecuted by the authorities leading to just 2,264 convictions. Now Vera Baird has promised a step change in the way the police force will deal with the problem if she is elected in November. Ms Baird has announced plans to introduce a pilot project in Northumbria which will seek to prevent domestic abuse incidents occurring by using active monitoring and management of known serial perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence.

The proposal is one of five priorities to address the problem of violence against women and girls which will be adopted by Labour Police & Crime Commissioners across the UK:

- Develop and roll out an integrated local action plan to tackle violence against women and girls – ensuring that VAWG is also prioritised in the local crime and policing plan and appointing a lead specialist, responsible for delivering the plan; 

- Ensuring specialist domestic violence and public protection units within the police service continue to be supported - whilst also striving to maintain the important existing network of independent advisers and advocates to women survivors of violence; 

- Deliver specialist training in dealing with domestic and sexual violence, and stalking – as well as other forms of violence against women and girls, for neighbourhood police officers, for those in specialist protection units and for those involved in commissioning services for the survivors of violence; 

-Support early intervention to tackle violence against women and girls – valuing the importance of working with schools, local authorities and community-based organisations to change attitudes and behaviour; 

- Pilot preventative policing projects in areas including Northumbria– to promote the active monitoring and management of serial perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence, and stalking. 

Vera Baird said:

“Domestic abuse is still a hidden crime that occurs behind front doors on every street and in every town and city. Though Northumbria Police have worked hard to change this culture and prosecute offenders we have to redouble our work. It’s inadequate that out of 28,000 incidences reported, just 10 percent of perpetrators are prosecuted so that many are able to abuse again. As a society we need to understand this issue and use creative means to tackle it.

 “I’m announcing today that if elected I will make tackling violence against women and girls a priority. Police forces in other areas of the country have brought in preventive measures to monitor and deter repeat perpetrators which we in Northumbria can adapt and improve.  “I know from speaking to women's group and refuges the challenge they face in dealing with this problem, especially in light of the cuts in funding from the Tory-led government. As Police & Crime Commissioner I would ensure an absolute commitment to increasing convictions and driving down incidences of violence against women and children.” 

The announcement was made as Labour launched its policy review document “From detection to prevention”.

The Labour Party's policy review will draw on the work of the party’s Women’s Safety Commission, which is chaired by Vera Baird.