28th March 2014

Domestic Violence - Thousands of people at risk

The news that thousands of people are at risk of harm or even murder because of the widespread police failure in England and Wales to tackle domestic abuse is clearly worrying says Jackie Colbert, a family lawyer at Cartwright King specialising in acting for victims of domestic abuse.  

The findings have emerged from a report commissioned by the Home Secretary Theresa May and carried out by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary to look into domestic abuse. Domestic abuse forms 8% of crimes and the police receive more than 1 million calls in a year relating to domestic abuse and almost 58 thousand victims, being at risk of serious harm or murder. The report however revealed that there is an alarming and ineffective response by many police forces.

The report also highlights the fact that three women a fortnight were being killed by a partner or former partner and a third of all assaults recorded by the police related to domestic violence. It also says that only eight out forty three forces were responding well to domestic abuse and sixteen of those forces had no systems in place to prioritise calls from known victims or to prepare emergency response officers. In addition it criticises the way in which domestic assault files have been presented to court, for example pictures of injuries where not taken in half of the files inspected.   

“Victims should take comfort from the fact though that we can apply to the court on their behalf in order to obtain a civil court injunction which would give them some protection,” said Jackie Colbert. 

“This could include prohibiting the use of unlawful violence and preventing the perpetrator from coming within a set distance of the victim’s home. Such injunctions may contain a power of arrest which enables the police to arrest the perpetrator if there has been a breach of the order. This person will then be brought back before the court to deal with the situation. Importantly Legal Aid is available for these types of action, as long as the victim meets certain financial criteria and we can help them access this.”

Domestic abuse can be ongoing abuse over a period of time and appropriative protective measures can be taken through the court.

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