29/09/2009

Domestic Violence Victims' Aid Proposed

Violent partners will be banned from their homes and their victims given support to escape abuse under new proposals due to be unveiled today by Home Secretary Alan Johnson.

Police will be able to initiate a Domestic Violence Protection Order, also known as 'Go' orders, barring perpetrators of domestic violence from their homes for up to a fortnight, giving their victim breathing space to consider their options.

Today the Home Secretary is expected to outline the powers which will be reinforced by support for victims.

Local caseworkers will use the period of the order to advise the partner about services if they decide to leave the relationship including practical help to secure a longer-term injunction.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: "We must never accept that violence against women and girls is best left behind closed doors.

"It is not right that victims of domestic violence, who have already suffered so much, are forced out of their home. It is both safer and fairer to remove the abuser.

"These measures will give abused partners valuable breathing space to consider their options supported by trained caseworkers who can help them escape the cycle of violence."

The Home Secretary added that like restraining orders which come into force tomorrow, 'Go' orders will be another valuable tool to help protect victims and tackle perpetrators of domestic violence.

Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge, said: "Protecting abused women and children is at the heart of what Refuge does.

"These new orders will protect women from further risk of domestic violence if they are implemented effectively.

"We hope the Government will underpin these positive initiatives with the funding and training needed to ensure this, and, in doing so, alter radically the number of women whose lives are blighted by domestic violence."

Women's Aid has welcomed the government proposal: "As evaluation of these programmes has shown, this police action can be very effective if victims also receive immediate help and support from specialist domestic violence services, to ensure that effective safety planning and longer term support and protection is put in place."

Domestic violence is a widespread problem. Around 750,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported to the police every year, resulting in 200,000 arrests.

(GK/BMcc)

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