Domestic Violence: Will the Punishment Ever Fit the Crime?


Metropolitan Police crime figures have shown that domestic crimes have gone up by nearly 18% over the last 12 months. Domestic crime is described by the Met as, "any offence of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse… between adults who are or who have been intimate… or family members."

Is there justice for victims of domestic violence

This abuse includes that which is psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional, much like the Home Office definition of the same crime. Now that the current situation has been exposed, what are the Met planning on doing about domestic crime in the community?

Met Police Crack Down on Perpetrators

Domestic violence has and will always be a contentious subject, especially when it comes to the treatment of offenders, and reoffenders. Commander of the Met Police, Christine Jones has promised to crack down on offenders and target 5 priority offenders in each London Borough.

This would mean that out of the 33 London boroughs, 165 offenders will be identified based on the gravity, frequency and date of when they carried out their offence.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, Christine said it "appals" her that the level of accepted violence towards women is at an all-time high. There are a number of measures that the Met is willing to take to tackle offenders, and hopefully reduce the number of reoffenders. Amongst them are removing offenders from their homes for breaching tenancy agreements and revoking driving licenses when vehicles have been used to commit crime.

#WhyILeft and #WhyIStayed

The same lax attitude that Christine describes concerning domestic violence in the UK can also be seen on the other side of the Atlantic. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice allegedly punched his then-fiancé (now wife) in the face in an elevator, knocking her unconscious. CCTV footage also shows his laidback attempt to move her limp body from the lift to the door where he left her until she regained consciousness.

At the time, Rice was given a small 2 game suspension by the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and £500,000 fine despite the apparent level of violence and nonchalance displayed on the video clip. Unfortunately, this just goes to show the attitude towards domestic violence that some employers have.

After a public backlash, Rice has since been suspended indefinitely.

One in 4 women in the UK will experience domestic violence over their lifetime and many, like Rice's current wife, may not leave their abuser, even after a violent attack. Twitter has been highlighting the plight of victims and their choice to either leave or stay with their abusive partners by using the hashtags #WhyILeft and #WhyIStayed emphasising both sides of the debate.

Emma Pearmine, partner and Head of Family Law at Simpson Millar LLP commented on both stories by saying:

"As Trustee for The Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violance, I must say that there is no justification for this type of behaviour and it is important that both the employers and the employee’s regulatory bodies stand up and insist that this behaviour will not be accepted. Criminal sanctions are available both in the UK and abroad. However, sadly, we must accept that financial sanctions are more often what will make a perpetrator sit back and listen, and consider changing a behaviour cycle. If this perpetrator is not allowed to work for a period of time – then he may finally come to understand the seriousness of his behaviour, and address it."

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