Monday, August 09, 2010

Measuring the cost of domestic violence

Last week, the Indy ran a story about Teresa May scrapping a trial of a new police power to ban suspected abusers from their family homes - a trial that had previously been given cross-party support, but is now being scrapped because
"...in tough economic times, we are now considering our options for delivering improved protection and value for money."
I wondered just how much a limited trial in two force areas could possibly cost and meant to look into it, but Unity got there first and has dissected it very thoroughly over at Liberal Conspiracy, showing that the maximum cost of the trials to be borne by the Home Office is likely to be around £700,000, a drop in the ocean of costs caused by domestic violence nationally.

The idea of the legislation is to allow a senior police officer to take action where they have good cause to believe that domestic violence is taking place, but where they may not have sufficient evidence to actually make an arrest. They would be able to issue a short term - 48 hour - exclusion order to the alleged perpetrator, which allows time for the victim to get their case before a court to consider a more long-term order, the provision of which is aso supported within the legislation. Clearly, there are civil liberties issues attached to this, but the whole point of a trial is to see how the legislation is applied and whether it has any effect in tackling this problem - which is notoriously difficult to deal with.

Cancelling this trial is a mistake and will leave women and men at additional risk from their abusers. Given the costs that Unity identifies, it seems unlikely that this measure would fail a cost/benefit analysis, let alone any assessment on the basis of common humanity.

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