Birmingham MP calls for more action against domestic abuse

Preet Gill, Labour MP for Edgbaston, Birmingham

Preet Gill, Labour MP for the Birmingham, Edgbaston constituency

Birmingham MP Preet Gill has expressed shock at new figures revealing the limited use of a law designed to prevent domestic violence — particularly in the West Midlands.

She has added her voice to that of fellow Birmingham MP Jess Phillips, who has already called for the law to be more actively applied.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme — also known as Clare’s Law — is designed to alert potential victims if their partner has a history of violence.

But West Midlands Police came bottom of a new survey of how forces in England and Wales apply its measures.

“I am very, very shocked,” Gill told Birmingham Eastside — but she acknowledged that the force’s resources were stretched increasingly thin.

“West Midlands Police has had huge amounts of cuts to its budget — we are talking about a £145 million.

“Neighbourhood policing, where some of this work around Clare’s Law would take actually place, has been decimated.”

Nevertheless, she added: “We should be supporting women, trying to do more work around prevention — and that’s what Clare’s Law helps with.”

Under Clare’s Law, individuals can ask police for information on whether their partner has a history of violence or abuse.

The forces themselves have powers to warn someone if the person they live with has a past they should know about.

West Midlands Police came bottom of a survey of 37 police forces by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism — although six other forces failed to release any information.

The West Midlands Police website provides information for victims of domestic violence

                   West Midlands Police provides help for victims of domestic violence at its website

Make this a priority: Gill

Jess Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham, Yardley, spoke out on the issue earlier this week, when she responded to the Bureau’s research.

“If we are going to make new legislation, we have to make sure it isn’t just nice-looking law, it has to mean something on the ground,” said Phillips, who sits on the Women and Equalities select committee.

Gill insisted that despite the lack of resources, the police and other authorities had to do more to tackle the problem of domestic violence.

“As a society, we need to make domestic abuse a priority. Far too many women are victims of domestic homicide … and Clare’s Law’s disclosures are just so important.”

Social workers and other actors in the field had a duty to refer on such cases to ensure the information was available, she added.

Clare’s Law, introduced in 2014, is named after Clare Wood. She was murdered by her partner, who had a history of violence towards women.

For a detailed breakdown of the Bureau’s figures, see Wan Ulfa’s article.

Do you have a problem with domestic abuse? West Midlands Police offers help and advice at its website.

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