A DOMESTIC abuse campaigner has welcomed Government plans to classify the crime as an offence in its own right.
A new crime of domestic abuse could be created under proposals being considered by ministers to help those living in fear of being attacked in their own homes.
Currently, domestic abuse offences are dealt with under the same laws as other assaults and forms of harassment, but Home Secretary Theresa May is now leading a consultation into categorising it as a separate crime.
Julie Robinson, chairman of South Tyneside’s domestic violence forum and project manager for the charity Options, is backing the move, as is Northumbria Police and Crime Commisioner Vera Baird.
Mrs Robinson said: “Living in fear of the person that is supposed to love you can be detrimental to a person’s mental health and wellbeing, and we all have the right to live in our own homes free of fear and abuse.
“I also agree with Vera Baird that funding should be ring-fenced for all domestic violence and abuse services.”
Mrs Baird said: “Currently, people are prosecuted for individual assaults, which is only right, but criminal violence in the home is worse than criminal violence outside as the victim often has nowhere to escape. These assaults can go on for many years, with the victim becoming oppressed, kept without money and not able to meet family and friends, all affecting the victim’s psychological wellbeing, in addition to being assaulted.
“Sometimes, it’s only necessary to hit a victim once to exert continuing unpleasant control over them in the same household.
“The rest of their conduct is currently ignored by the criminal law when, in actual fact, it’s the essential nature of the offence.”
Refuges provide a safe haven for victims, but Mrs Baird said Mrs May needs to tackle the closure of such facilities nationwide.
She added: “Funding pressure on local government can have an adverse effect on services to support victims.
“There is little point improving the law if the services victims need are being closed or depleted.”