A scheme that provides increased protection for victims of domestic violence is to continue in Greater Manchester, Wiltshire and West Mercia police force areas, the minister for equalities Lynne Featherstone announced today.
The year-long pilot comes to a close today (30 June) but all three police forces will continue the scheme while the home office carry out an in-depth evaluation in order to decide whether or not a change in the law is needed. Around 320 domestic violence protection order’s (DVPO) have been issued since the scheme began in June 2011.
Under the scheme, the police and magistrates can use a DVPO to protect a victim when they are at their most vulnerable in the immediate aftermath of an attack, by preventing the perpetrator from contacting the victim or returning to their home for up to 28 days. This helps victims who may otherwise have to flee their home and gives them the space and time to access the support they need and to consider their future options.
Domestic violence is a widespread problem and comprised 14 per cent of all violent incidents reported in the british crime survey last year.
Home office minister Lynne Featherstone said:
‘Our ambition is nothing less than ending all forms of violence against women and girls. Domestic violence is an appalling crime which see two women a week die at the hands of their partners, while millions more suffer years of abuse in their own homes. That is why we are constantly looking at new ways of protecting victims and preventing tragic incidents from happening.
‘I am pleased that Greater Manchester, Wiltshire and West Mercia police will continue running the scheme, which means even more victims will be protected and given the breathing space they need in the immediate aftermath of an incident.’
ACPO lead for domestic abuse chief constable Carmel Napier, said:
‘While the domestic violence protection order pilot has now ended, it is encouraging that the forces involved have taken the decision to continue to fund the scheme and roll it out further across their police force areas. This will allow a full evaluation of the pilots, over a considerable period of time, so that we can understand their impact on the safety of domestic abuse victims and their families.
‘Across the police service we continue to work to reduce the harm caused by domestic abuse and we will be closely watching the results from these three forces.’
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.
The home office has commissioned an evaluation of the pilot to capture lessons learnt and explore the implications of DVPOs for victims, perpetrators and criminal justice agencies. This is expected to report in late summer 2013.
The government is providing nearly £40million ringfenced funding for specialist services to tackle violence against women and girls up to 2015. This includes supporting national helplines, improving services to support children under 18 suffering rape and sexual abuse - including from gangs and providing extra money for rape support centres.
Notes to Editors
1. 320 DVPOs have been granted by courts from June 2011 up until June 2012. These are provisional management data only and are subject to change.
2. Currently DVPOs operate within six of the 11 territorial policing divisions within GMP, and two out of five territorial policing divisions within West Mercia. The DVPO provision is already force-wide across Wiltshire.
3. Please contact the force areas for case studies and spokespeople. Police press office contacts as follows:
West Mercia police 01905 33 1674
Wiltshire police 01380 734254
Greater Manchester police 0161 856 2284
4. The DVPO 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 to the home, 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 strikes a balance between immediate protection for the victim and judicial oversight.
- 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): 0808 802 0300
- Respect phoneline (for perpetrators seeking help to stop domestic violence): 0808 802 4040
To view the ‘call to end violence against women and girls - action plan’ visit www.homeoffice.gov.uk/vawg
For further information please contact the home office press office on 020 7035 3535.