Column: Crime commissioner says new domestic abuse guidelines are a step in the right direction

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Earlier this month there was some encouraging news for victims of domestic abuse - the Sentencing Guidelines Council has increased the penalties which can be applied to the perpetrators of this dreadful crime.

I for one, really welcome this change.

Many of you will know, tackling domestic abuse in its various forms has been a major priority for me since I became Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner.

In the last five years my office has delivered over £2 million of public funding to more than 20 voluntary and charitable organisations to help domestic abuse victims.

This support for victims includes counselling to help them recover from their traumatic experiences, support during the criminal justice process and help to access accommodation.

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The importance of this work was highlighted to me during my first visit to the Waveney Domestic Violence Forum just after I was elected and, since then, it's been so gratifying to see at first hand how our commissioning makes such a difference to so many Suffolk people.

I've no doubt raising the profile of this awful crime in society has encouraged increased reporting by the victims, which is probably why the recorded cases of domestic abuse in Suffolk have risen by nearly 40 per cent in the last year.

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Sadly however, far too many instances are still not reported. I really hope these new sentencing guidelines will send a powerful message to 'would-be' perpetrators to stop their abusive attitude.

So what's the main thrust of these changes?

The sanctions are now greater if the abuse is carried out in a domestic situation and particular note must be taken when children are involved.

But whilst these new guidelines are a significant step in the right direction we must remember we all have a shared responsibility in Suffolk to do all we can to eradicate this appalling behaviour.

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