Oldham’s Liberal Democrats believe that proposed legislation currently going through Parliament would be much more effective if it included a commitment to establish an offenders’ register for those convicted of stalking or domestic violence.
Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Councillor Chris Gloster, a former police officer with 30 years’ experience, will be proposing a motion to the next meeting of Oldham Council (16 December) calling on the government to create this register as part of the Domestic Abuse Bill when it becomes law.
Councillor Chris Gloster explained why he is bringing this motion to Council: “The Covid-19 lockdown has sadly led to a significant increase in reports of domestic violence as partners have been obliged to spend more time at home and underlying tensions in relationships lead to breakdown. Most shockingly this has been reflected in a fifty percent homicide increase with three women being killed by their partner every week.
“Stalking, coercive behaviour and domestic violence are often committed by the same offenders, with perpetrators often having a history of such behaviour towards multiple partners. If there was a single national register, like there is for sexual offenders, it would be easier for police forces to track and manage offenders as they move from place to place, and before they find new victims. More importantly it would most likely save lives. Yet maddingly there is currently no such register, nor is there currently any legal duty placed upon police forces to do this.”
Councillor Diane Williamson, who is seconding the motion, said: “The Domestic Abuse Bill is a welcome step forward in protecting victims, but the government is currently only committed to some vague promises to better share information about offenders, and remains wedded to Clare’s Law, where anyone who fears they may be in a relationship with a person with a history of offending can contact police to find out if they are. These are serious deficiencies in the bill.
“Creating a national register and requiring police services to proactively notify persons in relationships of the offending behaviour of their partner would be much more effective. I hope that our motion, if carried, will help change the Government’s mind on this life-or-death issue”.
The National Stalking Advocacy Service, Paladin, established by survivors of domestic violence and stalking to support other victims and to campaign for changes in the law, has been working with Liberal Democrat Councillors in Oldham to bring this motion to Council.
Zoe Dronfield who was a victim of stalking and domestic violence, and is now a campaigner and Trustee of Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service (NSAS),
“I know first-hand the disastrous impact of Police not having a statutory obligation to register, track and monitor offenders of this nature. In 2014 I was almost murdered by a known serial offender, his crimes undetected due to not joining the dots. My case is not unique.”
“Now as a campaigner I hear this time and again that a known perpetrator is giving leniency because their background offending has not been checked, meaning his recent offending is dealt with less severity. We must start looking at the pattern of these crimes and the escalation that happens when they go undetected.”
“A register like the sex offender register, which the framework currently exists, would allow the police to be proactive in their policing. I’m sure they would welcome being able to finally deal with these offenders with the level of severity needed to reduce these crimes in long run.”