Domestic violence offenders register needed urgently

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Plaid Cymru has called for a domestic violence offenders register to be introduced urgently following the conviction of Marvyn Iheanacho for the murder of his girlfriend's five-year-old son.

Marvyn Iheanacho, 39, was jailed for life this week having battered his girlfriend’s five-year-old son, Alex Malcolm, to death in a London park for losing a trainer.

During the trial it emerged he had been convicted for domestic violence offences against five previous partners. His victim’s mother was not aware of his previous convictions.

Plaid Cymru has been told by domestic violence experts that hundreds if not thousands of men have multiple domestic violence victims.

1.4 million women each year suffer some form of domestic abuse according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and according to the domestic abuse charity, SafeLives, seven women a month are killed by a current or former partner in Wales and England. Reporting and conviction rates for sexual offences and domestic violence remain low - only seven per cent of reported rape offenders are convicted and only ten per cent of sexual offences, according to the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and the ONS.

Plaid Cymru’s Justice and Home Affairs spokesperson, Liz Saville Roberts MP says that the law as it stands is not fit-for-purpose and she intends to introduce amendments to the British Government’s Courts Bill in the autumn to introduce a domestic violence offenders register.

She has tabled a number of written questions to the British Government including to the Home Office on whether any consideration has been given to requiring Police and Crime Commissioners to publish an annual plan in respect of domestic violence and abuse; and whether there are any plans to review the penalties for breach of a restraining order where it was issues following proven domestic violence. The questions are awaiting response.

Commenting, Plaid Cymru’s Justice and Home Affairs spokesperson, Liz Saville Roberts MP said:

“The brutal murder of five-year-old Alex Malcolm was devastating and the pain now suffered by his mother, and girlfriend of her son’s murderer is unimaginable.

“That this crime was committed by someone who had five previous convictions for domestic abuse shows that the justice system is failing victims.

“Campaigners and charities are telling us that there are hundreds, if not thousands of men have multiple domestic violence victims but currently the onus is on the victim to ask the police for details about prospective partners and it is not surprising that this is rarely done.

“I will be seeking to amend the Courts Bill when it comes to Parliament in the autumn to introduce a domestic violence offenders register. Offenders should be placed on the register for a lifetime and if an offender has more than two victims, there should be further restrictions such as a requirement to report to the police on specified occasions, or unannounced police visits to the offender’s home.”

Victims’ rights campaigner, Harry Fletcher, said:

“Increasingly the courts are finding that he same perpetrator has multiple domestic victims. Urgent action is needed. There is an overwhelming need for a domestic violence offenders register and offenders must be put on the register for a lifetime.”

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