Call for action as attacks on women soar across Yorkshire

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper

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REPORTS of violence against women in Yorkshire have rocketed by almost 30 per cent since 2010 – yet the number of cases which get to court has fallen dramatically, new figures reveal.

Shadow Home Secretary and West Yorkshire MP Yvette Cooper today warns that “the clock is being turned back” in the struggle to prevent violence against women, after figures published by Labour revealed the number of cases going to court in the region has fallen by 18 per cent since the last general election.

Writing exclusively for www.yorkshirepost.co.uk, Ms Cooper said support for victims of violence is “getting worse, not better”, with 85,000 cases of domestic violence being reported in Yorkshire each year.

“We shouldn’t stand for this,” she said. “Justice and support for victims of violence is getting worse, not better, as the clock is being turned back. Work done by the last Labour Government to provide more support for victims and prosecute more offenders is being reversed.

“Here in Yorkshire, the number of cases reported to the police has gone up by 29 per cent since 2010. But shockingly, at the same time, the number going to court has plummeted by 18 per cent.

“There were 1,500 fewer prosecutions in our county alone. The figures are similar for rape and child abuse too – more cases reported to the police, but far fewer ever reaching court or getting justice.”

Ms Cooper blamed Government cutbacks for failure to prosecute more cases of domestic violence.

“The Coalition Government just doesn’t treat this as a priority,” she said. “They’ve weakened the guidance for police, and cut back on the specialist police and prosecutors.

“Overall, thousands of frontline police have gone. The result is that more criminals and abusers are getting away with it, and thousands more victims are at risk.

“Support services are also being hit – from refuges to rape crisis centres. And changes to legal aid mean many women are now told they have to pay if they need to take out an injunction to keep a violent ex away from them.”

The Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP issued a rallying cry for people to join the global One Billion Rising campaign, which will today see huge numbers of people around the world take part in a range of events to raise awareness of violence against women.

“Two women a week are killed by a partner or an ex,” Ms Cooper said. “Here in Yorkshire alone, 85,000 cases of domestic abuse are reported to the police each year – and police officers in Wakefield tell me it’s one of the main reasons for 999 calls.

“Statistics on violence against women are deeply depressing. If there was this level of violence at football matches, there would be an outcry.”

“Yet, all too often, victims of violence are met with silence.

“That’s why today I will be joining women and men across the world campaigning to break the silence, and end violence against women and girls as part of the One Billion Rising movement.”

National figures released by the Office for National Statistics yesterday revealed 7.1 per cent 
of women reported domestic abuse in the last year, equivalent to 1.2 million victims, while 4.4 per cent of men reported domestic abuse.

Overall, however, the figures showed the number of all violent crimes is at its lowest level since 1981, with 1.9 million violent incidents against adults in England and Wales in 2012/13.

The Home Office Homicide Index showed there are 551 homicides - murder, manslaughter and infanticide - currently recorded in 2012/13 in England and Wales - 21 more than the 530 recorded in 2011/12.

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: “It is good to see that police reform is working and violent crime is continuing to fall.

“We are continuing to work to stamp out gang violence, tackle domestic abuse and protect vulnerable women and girls from sexual exploitation.”

To read the full article by Yvette Cooper, visit www.yorkshirepost.co.uk

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