Huge rise in repeat domestic violence in Wakefield

Domestic abuse by repeat offenders has risen more sharply in Wakefield than anywhere else in West Yorkshire.
Domestic abuse by repeat offenders has risen more sharply in Wakefield than anywhere else in West Yorkshire.

Wakefield has seen the sharpest rise of repeat domestic abuse incidents anywhere in West Yorkshire.

The number of offences committed by people with a previous record of violence in the home has increased by nearly 50 per cent during the past year.

The district's Safer Together partnership, which is made up of local council, police and NHS representatives, says it is working with victim support services to intervene in troubled households.

Presenting a report to the West Yorkshire Police and Crime (PCC) panel, Safer Together chair Maureen Cummings said: "Repeat (domestic violence) incidents are rising across West Yorkshire.

"However, our district is the highest. We have done a deep dive into why this could be and we need to understand why that is the case.

"Generally we find that first-time perpetrators are young, so that's really where we need to stop it.

"If we can stop the perpetrator we can stop the abuse."

A police pilot initiative to help teachers and school staff identify children who may be living in violent homes has been trialled across Castleford, Airedale, Pontefract and Knottingley.

The scheme started in September and will be rolled out to all schools in the district by Christmas.

Coun Cummings said she was also concerned about the ongoing impact of the closure of Wakefield Magistrates Court on abuse victims.

PCC Mark Burns-Williamson suggested in July that cases were taking longer to be heard since the court was shut by the Ministry of Justice in 2016.

A new 'safe room' will be set up in Normanton before the end of the year to allow Wakefield victims of sexual and domestic offences to give evidence via a video link without having to travel to Leeds where their case is heard.

But Coun Cummings said she remained "worried" about the state of provision.

She said: "I'd still much rather we had a court back here in Wakefield. It would make things much easier.

"Court workloads are increasing, and so time between incidents and them being heard is slipping.

"The more time slips, the more likely it is for a victim to turn round and say, "I can't be bothered".