Wales

South Wales Police chief Matt Jukes: 'Too many delays in abuse cases'

Chief Constable Matt Jukes
Image caption Chief Constable Matt Jukes said the South Wales force took domestic violence very seriously

Domestic abuse cases are taking too long to get to court because investigations are hampered by cuts in resources, South Wales's chief constable says.

Matt Jukes says reduced police numbers and dealing with digital evidence slows down inquiries.

The force received 33,614 reports of domestic abuse in 2018, figures show.

Campaigners say more needs to be done to address the problem as well as creating greater awareness.

Mr Jukes said: "One of the things I regret is the time it takes from reporting the incident to getting the matter into court has extended in the past year.

"Reduced police resources, the impact of digital evidence and the time that takes and disclosure challenges, means unfortunately it is now taking longer. That length of time is hard for the victim.

"There's a saying that, 'justice delayed is justice denied', and we need to get through that process."

The force was unable to provide figures for the length of time it takes for domestic violence cases to reach court.

But a spokesman said some cases were resolved "very quickly" while others "can take much longer".

Mr Jukes' comments come a month after research by BBC Wales into a new law about domestic violence.

Coercive or controlling behaviour was made illegal in 2015 - but figures show only 4% of complaints made to police in Wales have resulted in a conviction.

Image caption Natasha Hirst rebuilt her life and career after 10 months in refuge

Natasha Hirst, who said she was in an abusive relationship for two years, said people need to be more aware of the signs.

"It's not like you go out on a date and you will get punched in the face on day one," Dr Hirst said.

"Coercive control is designed in a way that you don't see it coming.

"You don't realised it's happening to you and then you're trapped."

Gwendolyn Sterk, from Welsh Woman's Aid, said perpetrators should be "held accountable for their abusive behaviour."

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