The six-month limit on reporting assaults too often allows the perpetrators to escape justice
Imagine gathering the strength and courage to report an incident of domestic abuse to the police, only to be told that it is too late for them to take any action – you have been timed out, there’s nothing they can do. This is what is happening to thousands of domestic abuse victims every year when they discover that a six-month time limit applies to their case. The law isn’t working, and it is part of a wider failure of the criminal justice system to properly recognise or tackle violence against women and girls. A crucial vote in parliament on Monday provides the opportunity to change the law – now we need the government to show its support.
Figures show that, over the past five years, police dropped close to 13,000 domestic abuse cases because they ran out of time, as a result of a six-month limit on prosecuting common assault cases in magistrates courts. The full figures are likely to be much higher – and the problem is getting worse, with more victims being timed out every year.
Yvette Cooper is the Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford