Domestic abusers will be excluded from Government plans to scrap short prison sentences after The independent revealed that thousands of men could walk free from court.
Campaigners and the domestic abuse commissioner applauded an announcement by ministers pledging to ensure “judges retain full discretion to impose prison sentences” on domestic abusers.
It comes later The independent revealed that 11,040 men were jailed for around 12 months or less for harassment, stalking and revenge porn last year – all sentences it feared could be handed down to the community as the government tries to free up space in overcrowded prisons.
Politicians, campaigners and the government's domestic violence watchdog have previously said The independent They feared domestic abuse and stalkers could “slip through the net”, while Labor warned the proposals had been “rushed out without regard for victims”.
Reality star Georgia Harrison, who was the victim of revenge pornography at the hands of ex-partner Stephen Burr, has raised concerns about the impact short sentences could have on victims.
But on Tuesday, the government announced that “stalkers, abusers and prolific offenders continue to face time behind bars.” It said domestic abusers would still face prison terms, with judges able to jail all offenders who pose a significant risk of “psychological or physical harm” to their victim.
Ministers also said that those who breach restraining orders or prevention orders would be exempt from the new proposals which scrap one-year sentences.
Mr Chalk said: “We want victims of domestic abuse to know that this Government is on their side, so we will do everything possible to protect them from those who cause harm or threaten to do so.
“That's why we're making sure judges retain full discretion to hand down prison sentences to domestic abusers – to give victims the confidence to rebuild their lives knowing their tormentors are safely behind bars.”
Nicole Jacobs, the domestic abuse commissioner, said it was “absolutely right that the Minister for Justice has committed to ensuring that victims of domestic abuse do not miss out on the justice and protection they need”.
He added: “Perpetrators of domestic abuse are often repeat offenders and their sentences often do not reflect the seriousness of the harm and the risk they pose.”
Ms Jacobs urged the criminal justice system to “urgently improve its response to domestic abuse”, pointing out that only 4 per cent of domestic abuse offenses reported to the police lead to a conviction.
“Public trust in the police is at an all-time low following a series of reports of horrific domestic abuse and sexual violence crimes committed by officers themselves,” he added.
Ellie Butt, of domestic abuse charity Refuge, said: “While we have yet to see details, Refuge is pleased to see the significant exemption of domestic abuse offenders announced in the sentencing measures announced by the Ministry of Justice.”
He said the charity routinely sees perpetrators of domestic abuse given short prison sentences of 12 months or less, regardless of the “serious nature of their crimes”.
Ms Butt added: “On average, two women a week are murdered by a current or former partner in England and Wales. That's a scary statistic.”
Anyone who needs help or support can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline which is open 24/7 365 days a year on 0808 2000 247 or via their website https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/