UK home secretary has revealed a number of proposals regarding treating survivors of DV in court

The UK home secretary Amber Rudd proposed in February 2018 a series of proposals to aid the treatment of domestic violence survivors in court. One measure seeks to make it automatic that victims of domestic violence will be eligible to give evidence behind a screen (to prevent them having to face their abusers).

Some DV charities such as Women’s Aid have welcomed the measures but highlight that domestic abuse survivors are still being subjected to the “abhorrent practice” of being interrogated by their abusers within the family courts. Katie Ghose, the chief executive of Women’s Aid, commented  “We know that the cross-examination of victims in the family courts by their abusive former partner is far too common.’

The practice of abusers being permitted to question their partners was originally going to be prevented under the prisons and courts bill. However, this was side-lined when Theresa May called a general election.

Rudd’s proposals will form part of a consultation on what to include in the Domestic Abuse Bill. Amber Rudd commented on the consultation in the Times saying:

“It [the consultation] will ask how we can improve our response in the home, in the community, in the courtroom, through to public services, accommodation for women fleeing their abuser, as well as how we can strengthen our laws to stop perpetrators and when possible rehabilitate them.’

The new bill is described here.

However, there is an overhaul proposed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government which includes plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system. It is suggested this will result in vulnerable women fleeing abusive partners being unable to pay for their accommodation using their housing benefit. To put this in perspective on average housing benefit makes up 53% of refuge funding.  It is anticipated the impact will be far reaching if these proposals go ahead.

Respect launch revised standards framework designed to ensure safe, effective, accountable work with perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse

 

Respect is the UK membership organisation for work with domestic violence perpetrators, male victims of domestic violence and young people’s violence in close relationships. In 2015-16, it was estimated that 2 million adults aged 16 to 59 were victims of domestic violence in England and Wales alone, with 1.03 million domestic abuse related incidents recorded by the police during the year. Domestic abuse-related crimes now account for 1 in 10 of all criminal offences. Respect believes every local area should offer comprehensive specialist support services for survivors of domestic violence and abuse.

CEO of RESPECT Jo Todd explains:

“Survivors deserve more than support; they need to know that agencies are working together to deal with perpetrators effectively. That means providing opportunities for perpetrators to change, but it also means holding them to account and taking steps to disrupt and prevent future violence and abuse.”

Respect have published the third edition of The Respect Standard an evidence based framework which sets out criteria for working safely and effectively with perpetrators of DVA including integrated support services. First published in 2008 the Respect Standard is regularly revised to ensure it is reflective of current practice and emerging evidence. The third edition of The Standard encompasses all work carried out with perpetrators including: early interventions, behaviour change programmes, high intensity case management and disruption activities. It aims to covers the whole cohort of perpetrators: whether they be in straight or in same sex relationships, motivated to change or not. The third edition also allows services who offer interventions with people with different levels of risk and need to apply for accreditation.

Achieving Respect accreditation enables organisations to evidence their good practice and remain accountable to stakeholders via a robust and thorough full scrutiny audit which carried out by expert assessors. To ensure that all services meet or exceed quality standards in management, intervention delivery, diversity and equality and multiagency work this audit consists of a desk top review, site visits, dip sampling of client work videos and interviews with staff and stakeholders. It is underpinned by 10 core principles including ‘do no harm’, ‘gender matters’, ‘safety first’ and ‘sustainable change’.

The official launch event took place at the House of Commons and was hosted by Thangam Debonnaire MP and attended by 60 invited guests, including specialists in the field of domestic violence and abuse and parliamentarians with an interest in this vital area of work.

Sarah Newton MP writes in the introduction that the framework:

‘focuses on perpetrator interventions, and makes sure they are delivered professionally and competently and are effective in reducing harm. Most importantly, the Standard ensures that further harm is not inflicted on survivors or their children, something which is vital if we are to ensure support and safety for the survivor and help them move on with their lives.’

To download a copy of the framework and the accompanying outcome framework please visit the Respect Website here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Bill has been passed in the Scottish parliament against controlling behaviour

The Scottish Parliament passed a bill on the 1st February 2018 making it an offence to engage in behaviour that is:

  • abusive towards a partner or ex-partner
  • likely to cause the partner/ex-partner to suffer physical or psychological harm
  • intending the course of behaviour to cause harm or was reckless

The bill also provides for some changes to criminal procedure, evidence and sentencing in domestic abuse cases. Existing offences such as assault could still be cited where a case of abuse is not covered by the proposed offence (e.g. where a single incident rather than a course of behaviour is prosecuted). The bill includes a good range of definitions of abusive behaviours, for example, it explicitly includes sexual violence and provides a definition of psychological harm. The bill also addresses a gap as there is known difficulty in disclosing sexual violence within relationships.

There have been suggestions relating to strengthening the laws further:

  1. The documented use of manipulation and ‘gas lighting’ techniques used by an abuser to convince their partner that they are insane could be covered by further legislation.
  2. The defence of reasonableness needs greater definition, this section of the bill implied that the onus is on the prosecution to prove that the behaviour was not reasonable beyond reasonable doubt.
  3. Additional prosecutions for perpetrators if there are grounds for child abuse charges.
  4. Training will be needed to help those involved in investigation and prosecution of the offence understand the range of behaviours and controlling relationships.
  5. It is more likely the complainant feels s/he is no longer in a relationship whilst the accused is continuing to believe they are. Therefore if an ex-partner or a potential ‘victim’ of this offence wants to challenge the relationship status, it could mean they cannot access the protection of this law.

You can access an article discussing the implications for training the Scottish police here.

More information on the BBC news website is available here. 

Many thanks to Professor Liz Gilchrist and Professor Erica Bowan for their contributions to this post.

 

Women’s rally in London 21 January 2018 – one year on

womens march 2018

A March has been organised in London by the Women’s March London team, the Time’s Up anniversary rally will start opposite Downing Street on Sunday 21 January. In a statement, the event organisers said: “One year on, we are coming together to say Time’s Up.”

The Time is up Initiative was launched at the start of January 2018 as a response to the #MeToo movement and the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Spearheaded by women working in the entertainment business in the US, the initiative provides advice and support to women across all industries who have experienced sexual harassment or abuse at work. Women of all ages and backgrounds have spoken out about their experiences of harassment and assault, reshaping assumptions about the prevalence of sexual misconduct. In the UK, a coalition of MPs and women’s groups demanded the government  strengthen laws around sexual harassment.

The rally organisers are also hoping to focus attention on a wide range of issues including gender-based violence, sexual harassment and abuse; Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, transphobia, homophobia and ableism; the gender pay gap; underfunding for domestic violence services; menstrual poverty and climate change denial.

 

Authors find people link different types of alcohol with different emotions

A new paper has been published discussing how choices of alcohol can affect emotions. The authors used an international cross-sectional survey and investigated alcohol consumption choices among men and women and included different settings where alcohol was consumed.

An anonymous online questionnaire was completed by people aged between 18 and 34 who had drunk alcohol in the previous year. The questions probed the type of alcohol drunk and associated emotions, and were asked in 11 different languages, with participants taking part from 21 countries around the world.

The findings showed that red wine was most linked to relaxation but also tiredness by people completing the survey and spirits were more closely seen as producing the emotions of self confidence and energy.

As one of the authors describes “From a public health perspective a lot of the time we have focused on issues around cancer, heart disease and liver disease – but an important aspect is the balance of emotional outcomes that people are getting from alcohol,” said Mark Bellis, co-author of the research from Public Health Wales NHS Trust.

Read a Guardian article that describes the study here.  

You can view the BMJ paper here.

 

Domestic Violence Conference 2018 – Worcester University

uni worc violence prevention 

The Centre for Violence Prevention at Worcester University is hosting an annual conference on the 4 and 5th June 2018. The focus of the conference is violence prevention at the intersections of identify and experience. The aim of the conference is to draw together practitioners and academics from all disciplines and to advance discussions and understanding around the complexities of preventing all forms of violence.

The conference organisers are calling for abstracts from academics and non-academics who work in the broad field of violence prevention. They are interested in submissions from the following topics in relation to victim and offender positions.

Hate crimes: Child abuse/exploitation, Child abuse and neglect, Violence in older age, Violence and gender, Honour based violence

Stalking: Gang related violence, Child to parent violence, Technology-mediated violence, Violence involving firearms and guns, Violence prevention in the context of war

Knife violence: Childhood violence, Workplace violence and abuse, Domestic violence and abuse

Abstracts of proposed papers should be no longer than 250 words and provide the general context and rationale for the presentation, and describe the main argument/case, and where appropriate summarize findings. Implications for practice should be noted. Please contact Esther Dobson e.dobson@worc.ac.uk  to discuss if your work fits the specifications of the conference.

Submission deadline: 31 March 2018 | Submit to cvp@worc.ac.uk

To book a place:  please click here

 

 

International Day for The Elimination of Violence Against Women 2017

internat womens dayun faces

Many international agencies, organisations and groups are preparing for 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign starting with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on the 25th November. Research shows that one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime internationally. Additionally, only 40% of these women seek out help and of these only 10% seek support from the police.

More evidence is emerging internationally on what works from community mobilisation to change social norms, school interventions targeting staff/pupils and economic empowerment to increase gender equality and reduce violence. You can access the UN Women’s website here to access news and events, videos, stories, statements and evidence that explains some international work in this area. If you would like to promote your event or activity for the 16 Days of Activism on our blog please contact Juliet.henderson@kcl.ac.uk

Thank you.

Lisbon Second European conference on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies 2017 – ADVANCE presentations

gang lisbonlisbon conference centre

Some members of the ADVANCE team presented findings on the meta-ethnography, systematic review and preliminary findings from the qualitative dyad interviews with males and their ex/current partners. Members of the teams from Kings College London and Worcester University chaired and presented at a symposium entitled ‘Advancing theory and treatment approaches for males in substance use treatment who perpetrate intimate partner violence (IPV).’

There was a wide range of high quality scientific and policy presentations at the conference covering topics including drug and alcohol use, gambling, misuse of medicines, smoking, smart phone usage, crime related to substance use, prisons and usage, health consequences, marketing of drugs on the internet, innovations in practice and delivery, reducing risk for users, clinical tools and evaluating impact of interventions or policies. The conference provides a valuable opportunity for discourse and networking across the different disciplines involved in this challenging area.   There were delegates from 71 countries and more than 1200 participants attended. Moreover there were over 500 oral presentations, 200 posters and 20 keynote speakers.

Pop up museum on international drugs policy – London

drug policy museum

For those of you who can access London easily there is a pop up museum about international drugs policy that is running from 3rd to the 5th of November.

The museum has already been hosted in New York and Montreal and the work aims to highlight how drug policies  have impacted and shaped different communities. It illustrates the diverse international harms caused by drug prohibition, while advocating for new approaches rooted in dignity, health, and human rights.

To find out more please click here.

New report draws attention to agencies focusing more on perpetrators of domestic abuse

 report ofsted

A report has been published by HM Inspectorate of Probation, HMICFRS, Care Quality Commission and OFSTED focusing on domestic abuse being a public health issue. The report focuses on good practice taking place in different parts of England but also draws attention to their findings that professionals aren’t focusing enough on perpetrators in their work.

The inspectorate considered six local areas in England including Bradford, Hampshire, Hounslow, Lincolnshire, Salford and Wiltshire. Their work included conducting a literature review considering national relevant data, speaking to survivors of domestic abuse, surveyed teachers in schools and sharing findings with stakeholders. They concluded that the volume of activity that domestic violence creates for agencies is so great that it requires sophisticated systems and well co-ordinated processes. They called for the next step to be considering long term approaches towards preventing domestic abuse which will involve a societal change in the concept of domestic abuse.

When focusing on perpetrators the report concluded ‘Change must start with a more systematic focus on perpetrators’ behaviour and preventing their abuse of their victims. By not taking this step forward the cost to victims and children, and to the public purse, will remain high.’

You can access this report here.