New survey finds confusion over what rape is: reflecting juries decisions in the UK








The End Violence Against Women Coalition commissioned the YouGov survey examining attitutes to rape which included around 4,000 people across Great Britain

A new survey of attitudes to rape and sexual violence published reveals:

  • A third (33%) of people in Britain think it isn’t usually rape if a woman is pressured into having sex but there is no physical violence
  • A third of men think if a woman has flirted on a date it generally wouldn’t count as rape, even if she hasn’t explicitly consented to sex (compared with 21% of women)
  • A third of men also believe a woman can’t change her mind after sex has started
  • Almost a quarter (24%) think that sex without consent in long-term relationships is usually not rape (1).

Rachel Krys co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition commented that:

“This research shows that confusion and myths about rape are still very common, and this could explain why it’s hard for juries to make fair decisions if they don’t understand or agree with our laws on rape. It also shows that victims won’t necessarily be given the support they need from their family and friends, if the rape they experience isn’t understood as harmful or even as rape. Yet most people think the system is important and is working for victims of rape.”

You can access information on the findings of the survey here

You can read more about the media’s reaction to this survey here.


Father murders wife and daughter: a new report reveals more training is required for professionals to identify controlling behaviour

A report into a father who shot dead his wife and daughter has said it is “vital” for all professionals to recognise signs of coercive control.

Lance Hart, 57, killed his wife Claire, 50, and daughter Charlotte, 19, before killing himself, in Spalding in 2016. The sons of the couple Ryan and Luke Hart are now campaigning for more awareness and believe that there were missed opportunities for GPs and other professional staff to identify their fathers controlling behaviour and take some action to address it.

A council-led domestic homicide review has been published which recommends staff receive more training and a public awareness campaign is undertaken.

you can read more about this story here.

ADVANCE blog from Manchester University: transforming the response to drug and alcohol dependent perpetrators of domestic abuse

A blog has been posted on the ADVANCE programme by Manchester University by Professor David Gadd and collaborators focuses on the domestic violence (DV) agenda and perpetrators. This coincides with the 16 days of action for violence against women.

This blog emphasises the UK government is considering introducing court orders that require DV perpetrators to abstain from using substances and questions the feasibility of this approach by drawing on the evidence from a report Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse.    This report highlights an ‘association between complex needs’ and ‘drug and alcohol misuse, offending, mental illness and poverty’ and  emphasises the need to focus on the ‘dynamics of power and control which are present in many abusive relationships’.

The blog also discusses that many models of drug treatment assume that there will be some relapse which is incompatible with DV policy that may promise ‘zero tolerance’ for domestic violence reoffending behaviour.

You can access more information on the blog and the ADVANCE programme here. 

Originally published on the Policy@Manchester website.


The Charity Alcohol Change UK is being launched next week


Alcohol Change UK is a new charity being launched next week to coincide with Alcohol Awareness Week from 19-25 November 2018. Alcohol Change UK  has been formed by the merger of Alcohol Concern and Alcohol Research UK.

Their vision includes a world with no serious alcohol harm, they are working towards creating five evidence-driven changes:

  • Improved knowledge
  • Better policies and regulation
  • Shifted cultural norms
  • Improved drinking behaviours
  • More and better support and treatment

You can read about their new strategy here.

Find out more about alcohol awareness week here. .




Queensland Police reveal woman’s home address to her violent former husband

A breach of privacy case has been bought by a DV victim whose home address was deliberately passed on by a senior constable Neil Punchard who worked at the Queensland Police. He had accessed her address from the police QPrime database and sent it to her violent former husband joking to him ‘“Just tell her you know where she lives and leave it at that. Lol. She will flip,”

The victim given the pseudonym Julie was forced to move with her family immediately and is claiming costs and raising this as a serious breach of privacy. She is seeking compensation for her moving costs but claims that the breach has cost her ‘“much more than that”.

The Queensland police are not denying that the constable Punchard gave the information to her former husband but they do “however, dispute that it breached its obligations under the privacy principles in the information privacy act. In other words, it does not accept that it is responsible for the privacy violation.”

Julie said during her hearing in June that ‘“Now, this officer, Neil Punchard, is still in a job. He still has access to the police computer. And I have had to move … [and] cross my fingers like this and hope he doesn’t do it again.’

Access an article regarding this case here.

New report published by probation service critical of Community Rehabilitation Companies

A report published today by HM Inspectorate of Probation is highly critical of the work that Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) carry out with domestic violence offenders. The role of CRCs is to supervise and provide structured programmes for low risk offenders in the community (including post-custody supervision). The report found that although there has been a 23 % increase in offences related to domestic abuse recorded by the police in the year to March 2018, (representing nearly 600,000 offences), a small proportion of these offenders are being offered perpetrator programmes, the number of perpetrator programme starts had decreased in the two previous years for which figures are available and an increasing proportion of offenders were failing to complete the programme

The inspectors found that there were too few referrals to the nationally accredited Building Better Relationships programme, and that a range of non-evidence based programmes were being delivered. Overall there was found to be a lack of  staff knowledge and confidence to properly manage domestic violence offenders or to deliver the requisite programmes. The report found that: ‘The lack of knowledge, skill and time dedicated to managing domestic abuse led to considerable shortfalls in the quality of case management’

You can download the report here.

You can see an article in the Guardian covering this topic here.

Coverage on ITV webpage here.

Italian women’s groups challenge parental alienation laws


Women’s groups in Italy fear that new parental alienation laws could have severe consequences for victims of domestic abuse. Lawyers from the far right League party  have called for “the serious phenomenon of parental alienation” to be criminalised, claiming the law is often used by men accused of violence against their partners to justify the refusal of the child to see them.

“They argue that the mother is guilty of alienating the child, when in reality the child is rejecting the abuse of the father,” said Girolamo Andrea Coffari, a lawyer and the president of Movimento per l’Infanzia (Children’s Movement).

Women’s groups are hugely concerned by the new law. “The laws are there but they are poorly implemented,” said Elena Biaggioni, a family lawyer. “For example, there is one that says violent men must be removed from the home, but it doesn’t work.”

Cultural attitudes pose another challenge: women who report violence struggle to be believed, either by police, their own families or the courts. Italy has the highest femicide rate in Europe and many fear that lingering macho attitudes not only lead men to regard women as their property but also permeate media reports of abuse.

Click here to read more.

Specialist Domestic Violence Courts – How special are they?

A report commissioned on Specialist Domestic Violence Courts (SDVC) by the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, found evidence of defendants ‘gaming the system’ by pleading not guilty to domestic violence offences in the hope that the domestic violence complainant will not turn up at court and the case will then be dismissed. This was confirmed in observations of 170 domestic violence cases in which significant numbers of defendants changed their pleas from not guilty to guilty at the last minute when the complainant did appear at the court. The authors of the report emphasised that because of the nature of domestic violence crimes, and complainants’ vulnerability to ongoing coercive control, they may not appear in court as a result of intimidation. The authors argue that this reinforces the need for well-funded Independent Domestic Violence Advocates  (IDVA) services and for adequate training for magistrates and court staff in order to support victims of domestic violence to pursue prosecutions. Cuts to IDVA services and for training for sentencing and SDVC court staff are a concern.  Of interest for our study, the authors note that defendants cited alcohol misuse on the part of complainants as a way to undermine her claims of victimisation. In addition, alcohol intoxication as mitigation for an offenders’ behaviour was observed to go unchallenged by courts although this is not part of sentencing guidelines. The report notes: ‘There were concerns that the most frequent mitigation was that the perpetrator was in drink and that the courts did not, in any hearing, point out that there is no known causative link between the two’

You can access the report here.


New article published indicated the link between brain trauma and IPV


An article has been published in JAMA this month that focuses on brain trauma due to IPV and the devastating consequences this can have on patients. The article focuses on work conducted the Barrow Neurological Institute’s Concussion and Brain Injury Centre in Phoenix.  The author Rebecca Voelker points out that

‘some experts say what’s lacking is attention to the long-term consequences of being hit, punched, or kicked in the head over and over. Concussion and chronic traumatic encephalitis (CTE) among professional football players who take continual hits to the head have grabbed headlines, but for survivors of partner violence—some who’ve been hit every day for years—brain injuries have essentially gone unnoticed.’

She acknowledges that domestic violence patients may not have time to recover between injuries which can lead to further complications. Staff in homeless shelters are now being trained to screen all women for domestic violence who come into shelters who have sustained head injuries. The article covers further research and findings in this field.

You can access the article here. 

Janet Street Porter advocates considering alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent women

A Loose Women lunch time show on television this week discussed reforms for women who are sent to prison and the impact on their children of prison sentences. Janet Street Porter spoke on the programme and is an advocate of the campaign to find alternatives to prison for non-violent mothers. She discussed how many of these women are substance users and in domestically violent relationships and require support. She argued that many support services and refuges are being closed because of cuts in funding for women in domestically violent relationships. The programme also highlighted the government’s new strategy to divert women away from prison sentences by piloting residential centres for women rather than building new women’s prisons.

A government press release discussing this strategy is available here.