Baroness Royall: Track serial offenders of violence to tackle domestic abuse and murder

Posted On: 
10th October 2017

Baroness Royall argues that placing offenders on a Violent and Sexual Offenders Register could help identify and prevent the perpetrators of serial abuse and coercive control.

Currently there is no existing framework which can track or monitor serial domestic violence perpetrators and stalkers.
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Two women a week are murdered by their current or ex-partner. Many were stalked prior to their murder. This has remained static for the last decade. Analysis of the Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) reveal that when domestic violence, stalking and coercive control co-occur, these are the most dangerous of cases, where women and children are more likely to be killed. Analysis of DHRs also show that many of the perpetrators have a history of abuse, including stalking, and have damaged multiple victims across their life course and breached conditions and orders put in place.

Cases include Alice Ruggles who was stalked and murdered in Northumbria in October 2016; Shana Grice who was victim number twelve stalked and murdered in Sussex in 2016; Tracey Morgan stalked by a work colleague, Anthony Burstow, for nine years. Burstow was stalking another woman simultaneously and he attempted to kill her; Ryan Ingham murdered Caroline Finegan. He had 23 convictions for violence, mostly towards partners; Jayden Parkinson was brutally murdered and her ex- partner Ben Blakeley is on trial for her murder. He has a history of serial abuse and was abusive during past relationships; and Jane Clough warned police her violent ex Jonathan Vass was going to kill her when she ended an abusive relationship with him. He had a history of abusing other women.

Currently there is no existing framework which can track or monitor serial domestic violence perpetrators and stalkers. Rather than the perpetrator being managed, oftentimes it is the victims who are forced to modify and change their behaviour and even flee their homes to stay safe. This is the reason why refuges are in demand and victims continue to be moved around the country. We track victims through Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conferences but not the perpetrator.

This must change. Paladin recommend that to meet the objectives there would need to be primary legislation to permit the regulation and ‘tracking’ of serial perpetrators of violence. Notification requirements and prohibitions placed would be akin to that of a Registered Sex Offender. Offenders would be placed on the Violent and Sexual Offenders Register (ViSOR) and be subjected to robust and proactive supervision, monitoring and management through the statutory Multi-agency Public Protection Arrangements. Registration and tracking will also inform and facilitate the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), helping to identify patterns of serial abuse and offending behaviour and coercive control.

The register and new orders for serial stalkers and domestic violence offenders will ensure protection to primary, secondary and potential future victims. This will ultimately save lives and money.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon is a Labour peer in the House of Lords