Tessa K wrote: ↑
Fri Oct 15, 2021 9:26 am
Victims of alleged domestic abuse are seeing their cases dropped at a rapidly increasing rate, according to data obtained by the BBC.
Police have six months to charge common assault cases, including domestic abuse, from when the alleged incident took place.
Campaigners say this is unfair because of the complex nature of many cases.
Figures show 3,763 cases were dropped for this reason in the past year, compared with 1,451 four years earlier.
Across the past five years, 12,982 cases have been ended because of the six-month limit being passed.
CAVEAT: The data was not broken down by gender, and covers both men and women.
As is generally the case with the criminal law, the media are making a poor job of explaining this problem, and politicians are making a poor job of tackling it. The six month limit applies to all "summary" offences - that is to say lesser offences that can be dealt with only in the magistrates court. In the context of domestic abuse this is most likely to be offences that fall into the category of Common Assault. Although Common Assault might sound as if it involves people knocking nine bales of hay out of each other, in law it only covers assaults that cause no physical injury, so pushing and shoving would be covered but blows would amount to ABH or GBH, which are triable by jury and for which the six month limit does not apply.
The political response to this has been - as if often is - calls to change the law, specifically calls to abolish the six month limit for some summary offences. Generally when politicians propose headline grabbing "changes" to the criminal law to solve a problem, the proposals are either ineffective, or impossible, or don't actually change the law at all. I suspect that this is the case here. If an offence has produced no physical injury, has taken place in private, and no information about it has been presented to magistrates until six months after the event, then the prospects of a successful prosecution are, I would imagine fairly slim even if the prosecution is allowed to take place. A sensible way to address the problem would be to ensure that, if a prosecution for such an offence is possible, then it is prosecuted swiftly, if the offence forms part of a pattern of coercive control this is investigated (coercive control does not fall under the six month limit) and that where the law cannot provide remedy other courses of action are explored. However all those things costs money, so will not be appealing to the government, and cannot be reduced to easy sound bites, so probably won't attract the attention of opposition politicians either.
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. The human body was knocked up pretty late on the Friday afternoon, with a deadline looming. How well do you expect it to work?