Domestic Abusers Register campaign
In November 2016, five-year old Alex Malcolm was murdered in Catford.
Marvyn Iheanacho was the partner of Alex’s mother, Lilya Breha. Ms Breha 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 Clare’s Law.
Last year, there were nearly 150,000 incidents of domestic abuse in London alone. The number of incidents per borough list is attached. Domestic abuse now accounts for one in ten of all offences in the capital. With four in ten survivors of domestic abuse repeat victims, it is essential that we take tougher action to protect survivors and their children from these vile acts.
In August this year, 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 Government has done more to protect against domestic abuse using Domestic Violence Protection Orders, Criminal Behaviour Orders, and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme but it is obvious that the tools we give to the police are inconsistent. The police are also taking extra steps to protect victims for example, through the Met’s Operation Dauntless+, which tracks just over 400 serial cross-border offenders but they are restricted by limited resource.
- A joint report on Domestic Abuse by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, and HM Inspectorate of Probation, concluded that far too little is being done to prevent domestic abuse. It also stated that the focus now needs to be on the perpetrator, looking at patterns of behaviour and preventing incidents before they occur. We believe a Domestic Abusers Register would give the police a significant tool to enable that change.
- With a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill expected in this Parliamentary session, and Baroness Williams of Trafford confirming that the Government will be exploring legislative changes to better protect victims later this year, the pursuit of a Register is both a timely and feasible ask.
- A Domestic Abusers Register would place the onus firmly on the offender. It would also trigger a vital step change in the way we protect victims and their families, particularly children, by giving police officers immediate access to the information they need to manage risk more effectively.
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 Letter to London MPs
All 73 London MPs received a cross party letter from the London Assembly in October 2017, to enlist their support for a Domestic Abusers Register.
Spokesperson for the London Assembly campaign, Len Duvall AM said;
“The fact that all parties on the London Assembly support the call for a Domestic Abusers Register is evidence of the urgency for a change in legislation. We can’t let horrific events continue to happen and we can’t let repeat offenders continue to get away with, what is sometimes, murder.
We need to support our police officers to be pro-active on domestic violence, as reactive policing is often too late. The onus now needs to be on the offender.
This is the first time the London Assembly has embarked on a cross-party campaign and I’m proud that we have all written to our London MP’s to seek their backing. This issue is above politics and it’s up to government to get cracking on this now – we need legislation to change and we need it to happen fast.”
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 Government Consultation on the Domestic Violence Bill
Statement from Len Duvall on the Domestic Violence Bill consultation
08 March 2018
“The London Assembly welcomes this consultation on the Domestic Violence Bill. We have been in discussions with the Government and relevant agencies in relation to the Assembly campaign for a Domestic Abusers Register.
International Women’s Day is the appropriate moment to begin consultation on this important piece of future legislation. We need the Government, police and representatives of survivor groups to work together on the detail of this bill.
There are some good proposals in this consultation, but we need all agencies to be proactive rather than reactive. That's why the London Assembly, with the support of the Mayor, is proposing the establishment of a Register to manage serial abusers, or those who need monitoring because they are a risk to others. The Register would also put the emphasis back on the criminal rather than the victim/survivor of these crimes.
There are numerous cases of domestic violence in London, and around the country, that have ended in murder. A Register would help to minimise violence and loss of life in the future.
The fact that all parties on the London Assembly support the call for a Domestic Abusers Register is evidence of the urgency for legislation. We will submit further proposals and evidence in support of the Domestic Abusers Register as part of the Government’s consultation.”
Spokesperson for the London Assembly campaign, Len Duvall AM