Domestic Abusers Register campaign
In November 2016, five-year old Alex Malcolm was murdered in Catford. The perpetrator, Marvyn Iheanacho, was the partner of Alex’s mother, who had no knowledge that Iheanacho had an extensive history of violence, including attacks on five previous partners. No information was disclosed by the police under the ‘Right to Know’ element of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), otherwise known as Clare’s Law.
In 2018, Len Duvall AM launched a report, Domestic Abuse in London: Addressing the problem,  which recommended the establishment of a Domestic Abusers Register, comparable to the sex offenders register.
The London Assembly undertook further research in 2019, and published a report setting out the urgent need for the establishment of a Domestic Abusers Register. This highlighted that:
- Since 2011-12, the Metropolitan Police Service has seen a 70% increase in recorded domestic-abuse related offences, representing almost 32,000 additional cases.
- Survivors of domestic abuse are often repeat victims. Nationally, one in three domestic violence victims have been attacked more than once across England in Wales.
- The DVDS can provide potentially lifesaving information on the history of a partner. However, its use is inconsistent. Despite the fact that there were almost 150,000 reported incidents of domestic abuse in London during 2017, the Disclosure Scheme was only used in a limited number of cases.
- We are calling for the establishment of a Domestic Abusers Register as part of the Domestic Abuse Bill. A Domestic Abusers Register would provide the necessary impetus for a shift in focus towards preventing domestic abuse, rather than responding to its devastating impact.
- In its current form, the Bill aims to place guidance supporting Clare’s Law on a statutory footing, and to introduce Domestic Abuse Protection Orders (DAPO). These are positive steps forward, but do not offer the same level of protection as a Register.
- As was noted by the Home Affairs Committee in its 2018 report on domestic abuse, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is dependent on an individual asking about an offender’s history, meaning many abusers slip through the gaps. That’s why we’re calling for the introduction of a national register of serial stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators to create a more joined-up approach to supporting victims and managing the behaviour of perpetrators.
The Unanimous Motion
In September 2017, the London Assembly unanimously agreed a motion urging the Mayor to write to the Home Secretary calling for the introduction of a register for those convicted of domestic abuse or related offences.
The Assembly recommends that the system could work in the same way as the sex offenders’ register, allowing police to hold information on perpetrators in order to better protect survivors.
The full text of the Motion is:
“This Assembly is concerned that the number of domestic abuse victims in London increased by 15% from 62,546 in 2014 to 71,926 in 2016, and that domestic abuse now accounts for approximately 1 in 10 offences in the capital. We have seen from recent incidents that domestic violence affects not just women but also children and, in some cases, men.
This Assembly recognises the concerted effort of all those working to tackle domestic violence, including the Mayor, Government, police service; and those working in the voluntary and community sectors.
Changes to legislation in recent years have sought to take more stringent action against perpetrators and we welcome measures such as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme – also known as Clare’s Law - Domestic Violence Protection Orders and use of Criminal Behaviour Orders. We further note the work of the MPS in tracking some of the most prolific domestic abuse perpetrators through Operation Dauntless+.
However, with estimates that 4 in 10 survivors of domestic abuse are repeat victims more rigorous measures are needed to prevent repeat offences. This is a terrible crime that disproportionately threatens women, traumatises children with lasting impact and endangers lives.
This Assembly therefore calls on the Mayor to write to the Home Secretary asking her to introduce a register for those convicted of a domestic abuse related offence, equivalent to that used for sexual offenders. This would shift the onus onto the offender whilst allowing the police to hold information on perpetrators, prioritise resources based on risk and better protect survivors.”
The Mayor's Support
On November 16th, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, agreed to support the London Assembly call for a Domestic Abusers Register.
Also, in August 2018, the Deputy Mayor for Policing, Sophie Linden, wrote to all Police Commissioners in England & Wales to bring their attention to the campaign.
The Domestic Abuse Bill
Now that the Domestic Abuse Bill has been presented to Parliament, the London Assembly has reaffirmed its call for the Government to legislate for a Domestic Abusers Register. Len Duvall AM, Assembly Spokesperson for the Register said:
"Evidence shows us that a Domestic Abusers Register has the potential to save lives.
"A Register would give the police the tools to be more proactive in their response to domestic abuse, rather than responding to its devastating impact.
The Government can't continue to allow serial perpetrators to slip through the cracks in the system. As it currently stands, the measures proposed in the Bill to track serial offenders simply aren't good enough.
The London Assembly will continue to make the case for a Register for serial abusers, and will be proactively pushing for this outcome throughout the passage of the Bill."