The average time it takes for people convicted of domestic violence to start a court ordered programme to help them change their behaviour has risen from 27 to 29 weeks.
In some areas, offenders are waiting for up to three years before commencing a programme, according to research by the Liberal Democrats.
The figures, revealed in a Parliamentary answer, show:
- The average waiting time for perpetrators of domestic violence to get on a programme has increased from 27 to 29 weeks between 2005/06 and 2008/09
- More than half of all areas (23 out of 42) in 2008/09 had an average waiting time of over half a year. The longest wait is in Essex, with perpetrators waiting an average of nearly a year (50.2 weeks) to get on a programme
- In over half of all areas (24 out of 42), the longest wait has been over a year and a half. In seven areas, the longest wait is over two years. The longest recorded wait in 2008/09 was in London, where one abuser waited nearly three years
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said:
“The Government is about to introduce more legislation on domestic violence but it is action not laws that we need most. It is clear from these figures that measures already introduced are not yet working properly.
“It is unacceptable that perpetrators of domestic violence are not going on behaviour changing programmes for half a year after sentence or release from prison.
“Victims of domestic violence are less likely to come forward if they think their attacker will not be dealt with for months.
“With the Attorney General warning that domestic violence will rise in a recession, it is important that we give top priority to this issue.”