eClub Meeting for week commencing 22nd November by Yvonne
Swindon and Wiltshire’s Domestic Abuse Awareness Week commenced on Monday 19 November and throughout the week there will be events to raise awareness of this under-reported crime.
Domestic abuse spans all social, economic, gender, age and ethnic strata, is not confined to physical violence and can often manifest itself through psychological, coercive bullying. In Swindon and Wiltshire there were 1,227 cases of domestic abuse recorded by the Police during the period 1 April 2012 to 30 September 2012. However, this is probably the tip of the iceberg as it is reckoned that a victim will suffer numerous assaults before they report the abuse.
Following widespread consultation, the national definition of domestic violence and abuse is being revised and from March 2012 will be:
“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:
Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”
This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.
Much is being done to tackle domestic abuse. Swindon and Wiltshire have been at the forefront of innovation running two pilot schemes designed to reduce domestic abuse and protect victims. The first is the introduction of Domestic Violence Protection Notices and Orders (DVPN/PVPO) which enables police to apply to a court to ban suspected perpetrators from molesting or contacting survivors, entering their home (even if it is the perpetrator’s home), and evicting or excluding survivors from the property, for a period of up to 28 days. The initial Notice is issued by the police who then have 48 hours to apply to a Magistrates’ Court for an Order. From the start of the pilot in July 2011 up until 31 October 2012, 193 DVPNs had been issued and 161 Orders granted.
Wiltshire has also been a part of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme pilot. The scheme allows the police to disclose information to members of the public about previous violent offending by a new or existing partner where this may help protect them from further violence. This information may be disclosed via a request from a member of the public (‘right to ask’) or by an agency where a proactive decision is made to consider disclosing the information in order to protect a potential victim (‘right to know’).
From the start of the pilot in July 2012, 16 ‘right to ask’ applications have been received, as a result of which one disclosure was made. Via the ‘right to know’ route, three applications were received and in all three cases information was disclosed.
In addition to the pilot schemes, criminal justice and associated organisations including the voluntary sector work closely together to reduce domestic abuse with specialist staff and processes in place to support victims.
More information about the services available in Swindon and Wiltshire may be obtained from: firstname.lastname@example.org.
National 24 hour domestic violence helpline 0808 200 0247
Is there a role for Rotary to play in helping to make our communities more aware of this crime?