Page last updated at 05:07 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009

Domestic abuse effort hindered by course delays

Domestic violence
The MoJ admits demand for the courses has "outstripped" supply

Domestic violence offenders are waiting months, even years to get on programmes to stop reoffending, figures suggest.

Since they launched four years ago, the average wait has risen from 27 to 29 weeks, while regional variations mean one London offender waited three years.

The Lib Dems, who compiled the figures for England and Wales, said the delays risked creating more abuse victims.

About 5,000 people started the courses in 2008-9. The Ministry of Justice said work was being done to reduce delays.

Proposals such as a domestic violence register of serial offenders have emerged out of a Home Office review into tackling violence against women and girls.

"These figures suggest there are serious problems with existing measures," says BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw.

Excessive demand

Probation areas in England and Wales began sending domestic violence perpetrators on specially-tailored programmes four years ago.

The Liberal Democrats say victims are less likely to report abuse if they think their attacker will not be dealt with quickly.

The MoJ admitted demand for the courses had "outstripped" supply in some areas, but said efforts were being made to address the delays.

As part of the Home Office review, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) proposed that women could get a "right to know" past allegations made against a new partner.

A full strategy is expected to be published in the coming weeks.

Police chiefs estimate there are some 25,000 offenders responsible for two or more acts of domestic violence across England and Wales.

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