28th October 2014 House of Lords
Lord Wigley tabled the amendment in order to enable this House to have a debate concerning bringing domestic violence within the scope of the Bill. The amendment seeks to argue that changes to the law on domestic violence should be within the scope of the Serious Crime Bill.
Harry Fletcher and Elfyn Llwyd's Bill gets support from the Lords
Similarly, Harry Fletcher, who was involved in drafting Elfyn Llwyd’s Bill, and who is now director of the Digital Trust, a new organisation committed to fighting online abuse, which is frequently seen in cases involving coercive control, has said:
“It is outrageous that so few women have confidence to report domestic violence to the police and that the number of convictions as a percentage of all violence is so low”.
He has also commented that the original Bill was based on the successful experience of naming domestic violence as a crime in the United States. Emulating this experience from the United States would go a long way towards protecting vulnerable women.
In the UK there are scores of domestic violence-related homicides or incidents of serious harm every year. Last year 7% of women, according to the Home Office, reported having experience of domestic abuse, which is equivalent to 1.2 million women a year. Two out of three incidents were experienced by repeat victims. The Home Office also reports that two women are killed by a partner, ex-partner or lover every week.
By contrast, the situation in the United States, where specific laws exist, is quite startling. Since laws were introduced at various times over the past 20 years, reporting has increased by nearly 50% and incidents of violence have decreased by over one-third. Plaid Cymru MPs are currently conducting research into how the laws covering domestic violence operate across the United States and I am sure that there is much that we could learn from their experience.
It is essential that domestic violence is perceived as a serious crime. If the Government are presented with an opportunity to strengthen the law, they must surely seize that opportunity. I hope that Members of this House will signal their support for such a change in the law. I beg to move.