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Police given new powers to intervene in domestic violence cases
Police will be able to prevent suspected domestic abusers from returning to a victim's home, under a pilot scheme launched by the Home Office today.
Greater Manchester, West Mercia and Wiltshire police will run the
12 month trial of Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs),
which officers can use to stop perpetrators from contacting
victims or returning to their home for up to 28 days.
The scheme is designed to provide protection in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident, before civil proceedings can be progressed. Domestic violence is a widespread problem and comprised 14 per cent of all violent incidences reported in the British Crime Survey last year.
Currently victims of domestic violence only receive immediate protection if the police arrest and charge a perpetrator, and appropriate bail conditions are set or a civil injunction is sought by the victim. If this does not happen, the only option for victims may be to escape to temporary accommodation.
Minister for Equalities Lynne Featherstone said:
"Domestic violence is an appalling crime which sees two people a week die at the hands of their partner or ex-partners, while millions more suffer years of abuse in their own homes.
"This pilot scheme is designed to protect victims in the short term and give them the breathing space to consider their next steps, including longer term protection through a civil injunction application."
The DVPO pilot is just one of the ways in which the government is tackling the issue of domestic violence, as part of its overall Violence Against Women and Girls Action Plan.
As part of the Plan there is a commitment to provide more than £28 million of Home Office funding over the next four years for local specialist services to support victims. This includes £3.3 million of funding per year for local Independent Domestic Violence Advisers and Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences and £900,000 per year for national helplines to support victims of domestic violence.
Nicola Harwin CBE, CEO of Women's Aid, the national domestic violence charity, said:
"Women’s Aid has been advocating for better legal protection and support for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse for nearly 40 years and we actively supported the introduction of DVPOs.
"These orders could be an important and useful tool in the police response toolkit to help improve options and safety for all victims of domestic abuse, as similar measures in Europe have shown. It is crucial that they form part of an effective multi-agency response that meets survivors’ needs, including the provision of advocacy and support from specialist domestic abuse services."
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. After the 12 month pilot period, there will be a full evaluation against a number of success criteria. A decision to roll out the DVPO scheme nationally will only be taken once the evaluation is complete.
2. The scheme is based on a two-step process. Where the police have reasonable grounds for believing that a perpetrator has used or threatened violence towards the victim and the victim is at risk of future violent behaviour, they can issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice on the spot to prevent the perpetrator from returning, provided they have the authorisation of the Superintendent. The magistrates' court must then hear the case for the Protection Order itself – which is the second step – within 48 hours of the Notice being made. If granted, the Order may last between a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 28 days. This will strike a balance between immediate protection for the victim and judicial oversight.
3. In March this year, the government published a detailed Action Plan - 'Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls'. It can be viewed here - www.homeoffice.gov.uk/vawg.
4. The Action Plan focuses on four key areas: the prevention of violence including reducing repeat victimisation, the provision of support, the bringing together of groups to work in partnership and action to reduce risk by ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice.
5. Support and advice on domestic violence can be obtained from the following helplines:
• National Domestic Violence Helpline (a 24/7 helpline run jointly by Women’s Aid and Refuge) 0808 2000 247;
• Broken Rainbow (for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender victims) 0300 999 5428;
• Men’s Advice Line (for male victims of Domestic Violence) 0808 801 0327;
• Stalking Helpline (for victims who are being stalked) 0300 636 0300; and
• Respect phoneline (for perpetrators seeking help to stop domestic violence) 0808 802 4040.
Home Office Press Office
Phone: 020 7035 3535