Police want power to tackle repeated domestic bullies
Police will today call for a new crime to be introduced to
prosecute men who carry out low-level psychological or physical
abuse of their wife.
Officers say the creation of a 'course of conduct' offence would
allow them to drag to court men who currently escape
punishment by repeatedly committing more minor acts against
It is part of a concerted attempt by the police and Government
to ensure as many wife beaters as possible are punished.
Women's groups however said police could better spend their time and resources on enforcing existing laws. The idea of placing a 'course of conduct' crime on the statute book is part of a review of domestic violence by Wiltshire Chief Constable Brian Moore.
He will also suggest serial wife-beaters are forced to register with police, in order for their movements and activities to be tracked.
Controversially, vulnerable women and girls may also be given a 'right to know' about persistent offenders if police feel they are at risk. Such a policy has echoes of 'Sarah's law', under which women with young children can ask the police if any potential new partner has a conviction for sex offences.
It could mean a woman checking a partner's background if they have justifiable concerns they may be violent.
Other measures to be outlined by Mr Moore will focus on making witness statements immediately available and widening the use of conditional cautioning.
Sandra Horley, of national domestic violence charity Refuge, said police should focus on getting the basics right, not drawing up new proposals. She said: 'If the police were trained to respond appropriately the very first time a man beats a woman, it would stop him from becoming a serial offender.'
Ministers have recently promoted a string of measures to tackle domestic violence.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson has announced suspected violent men will be banned from their own homes even if police do not press charges.
At present, a person can be kept away from their home address only if they are charged with a crime, and it is made a condition of their bail.
Alternatively, the alleged victims must seek a civil injunction.