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News from RtR

Reducing the Risk service users and staff - BAFTA stars!

Behind Closed Doors was nominated for a BAFTA and featured in last weekend's ceremony.

The film, made by True Vision Aire for the BBC, featured Thames Valley Police, Reducing the Risk and DASH - and three extraordinary women, victims of abuse, who agreed to their experience being filmed to help raise awareness and prevent abuse.

A documentary on Hillsborough pipped us to the post but it was a great occasion and an accolade to the work we do together and the amazing people we support. 

Oxfordshire LGBT+ website launches today

LGBT+ OxfordshireThe new LGBT+ website for Oxfordshire will launch under the rainbow flag at the Oxford Town Hall on Wednesday 17 May 2017. The launch will coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia,Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT).

This date commemorates the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. Since 2004, events on May 17 have been held around the world to draw attention to the alarming situation still facing many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, and all those who do not conform to majority sexual and gender norms.

The LGBT+ Oxfordshire website project has been developed with funding from the Oxford Safer Communities Partnership to provide our LGBT+ communities with better access to information, services and advice from local, regional and national organisations.

New DA Resource for health professionals

Department of HealthA new publication from the Department of Health, Responding to Domestic Abuse: a resource for health professionals, aims to support continuing improvement in the response from health and care services and allied healthcare partners.

Drawing on the NICE multiagency guideline on Domestic Violence and Abuse, this resource looks at how to support adults and young people over 16 years old who are experiencing domestic violence and abuse, and dependent children in their households.

It replaces Domestic Violence: A Resource Manual for Health Care Professionals (2006) and Improving Safety, Reducing Harm: Children, Young People and Domestic Violence – a Practical Toolkit for Front-line Practitioners (2010) and includes pointers to help practitioners identify potential victims, initiate sensitive routine enquiry and respond effectively to disclosures of abuse. There is a new section on dealing with perpetrators of domestic abuse and violence.

Beyond the Label conference

Abingdon & Witney CollegeOne of our DA Champions, Sasha, who's the Community Development Manager (Blackbird Leys) for Abingdon and Witney College, writes about an extremely interesting conference on June 14.

Hello DA Champs & friends of Reducing the Risk,

We are hosting a conference jointly with Leys CDI on the morning of Wednesday 14th June. The event will be free to attend and will be followed by a fundraising lunch costing £10 should you wish to stay on. The event brings together young people, parents and professionals to discuss and share ideas, frustrations and opportunities to support young people who have been involved in crime.

Vacancy- Domestic Abuse Support Worker

Role: DA Support Worker: (Fixed Term Contract until 31st March 2018)

Location: Bucks including Milton Keynes

Working  hours: 37 hrs a week flexible working hours, to include some evenings and weekends.

Salary range: £22,843 to £26,722 per annum

New website for crime victims in Thames Valley

Victims First: Care, Empower, RecoverThe Police & Crime Commissioner has just released their new website for crime victims across the Thames Valley region.

‘Victims First’ is the new overarching title for the PCC's work in providing support, increasing accessibility and improving services for victims of crime across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

The first initiative under ‘Victims First’ is a new online resource which has advice on what to do and how to get help if you’ve been a victim of crime, including information on what you should expect from the police and other criminal justice agencies if you report the crime.

Survey for victims of sexual violence

Thames Valley PoliceHere is news of a survey for anyone who has suffered sexual violence; it's designed to help Thames Valley Police understand more about why people may or may not report their experiences to the police, so that they can set priorities and improve their service. It is open to all survivors of sexual violence, regardless of whether you chose to report your experience.

The survey should not take longer than 10 minutes to complete. All information you provide will remain anonymous. You do not have to answer any questions that you do not feel comfortable answering.

Two vacancies at Wycombe Women's Aid

Wycombe Women's AidWycombe Women’s Aid is currently recruiting for a full time (37 hours per week) IDVA/Outreach Worker and a full time (37 hours per week) IDVA/Outreach Worker for Asian women (an ability to speak Punjabi, Urdu and English fluently is essential for the latter role).  More information is available on their website

New Report on DA among young people

A new piece of research funded by Avon into domestic abuse and younger people, shows some interesting results- here is a brief excerpt:

Training event from AVA

AVA Against Violence & AbuseAVA (Against Violence & Abuse) have asked us to publicise this event.

Children under ten years old and domestic violence 

June 14, 2017, London

Cost: £100 to £140

HM Inspectorate challenges police response to DA

HMICThere has been a lot of recent press attention about how police are blaming victims for prosecutions failing because they withdraw support -- a story we covered last month. Now the Independent has interviewed HMI Zoe Billingham, who leads for domestic abuse, about the disparity across the country of different police responses.

Ms Billingham thinks that the more victim-centred approach taken by officers recently, backfires when taken too far and can actually increase the burden on vulnerable people.

“We need to stop pushing responsibility onto the victim,” Ms Billingham told The Independent  “The police need to be taking their responsibilities seriously and getting on with it. They wouldn’t tell a victim of burglary: ‘Do you want us to do something about this?’ Would that ever happen? So why should that question be put – and we know it still is – to victims of domestic abuse? This balance between listening to what the victim says and actually getting on and doing your job is clearly being distorted in some areas and leading to all sorts of outcomes. The police have got to do their job. They have powers... they need to use those powers.”

Inspirational letter following double murder

Claire and Charlotte HartSome of you may recall the double murder in a Sports centre car park in Spalding last July. Lance Hart shot dead his estranged wife Claire and 19 year old daughter Charlotte as they went swimming. Hart shot himself but left a suicide note which included, "Revenge is a dish best served cold" referring to Claire having finally left him after years of domestic abuse.

The murders appear to have occurred a few days after Claire left Hart. She had suffered years of abuse and her two sons had been working abroad to save together enough money to enable her escape - tragically, Claire and Charlotte were murdered within a few days.

One of her sons, Luke Hart, has recently penned an inspirational open letter to his younger brother, Ryan. It shares the hopes and fears of those family members who sadly grow up in these environments and the impact it has. This is his letter, posted to his Facebook page:

IPCC criticises Surrey Police in double murder

Independent Police Complaints CommissionAn Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation has criticised Surrey Police for failing to consider and assess information before returning firearms, one of which was subsequently used in the murder of Christine and Lucy Lee, and has made a number of recommendations to improve the licensing of firearms nationally. This was brought to our attention in the press this week after Stacy Banner (a relative of the victims) revealed her story publicly. 

Eleven months before the killings, in 2013, police received an allegation from Stacy, the step-daughter of Christine Lee and sister of Lucy Lee, that her stepfather John Lowe had made threats to shoot her. Lowe’s seven licensed shotguns were removed. Her call to police included her concerns around his having Alzheimers and suffering a recent breavement as well as his threats to shoot and kill people. Banner subsequently withdrew her complaint, due to his age. Subsequently, however, and unbeknown to her, five of Lowe’s shotguns were later returned to him, seven months before he shot the other two women. The investigation was specifically into the police practice around the firearms and risk management.

Training Events from Relate

RelateRelate Oxfordshire has asked us to advertise the following one-day workshops:

Stress Management, Resilience and Wellbeing

Wednesday May 17, 2017

We all face daily challenges, whether in the workplace or at home, and the resulting stress can take its toll on our health, our relationships and our ability to get what we want from life. This workshop is designed to help you explore and identify your key pressure points,  to increase resilience  and equip you with some useful tools for coping more effectively with life’s demands.

Dealing with Difficult People

Wednesday June 21, 2017

Exploring the Relationship between Stalking & Homicide

Live Life Safe: Suzy Lamplugh TrustOne major research report published this week -- Exploring the Relationship between Stalking and Homicide -- comes from research conducted by the University of Gloucestershire in conjunction with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and headed by our Patron, Jane Monckton-Smith. The research suggests that there is a strong correlation between some key stalking behaviours and homicide, and that identifying the intention behind the stalking, and then managing the fixation, may reveal opportunities to save lives.

Research into more than 350 cases of criminal homicide highlighted the following:

London Marathon - news from the finishing line

Richard with his medalRunning for Reducing the Risk, Richard successfully completed the London Marathon in 4 hours and 46 minutes – just a little slower than the elite runners but inside his target time of 5 hours. He was apprehensive at first but was boosted by the festive atmosphere, London crowds and cheering friends and family and all your support.

He kept up an impressive pace until a few kilometres from the end where he slowed a little.

Huge thanks to everyone who sponsored Richard. He set a target of £3000. At the time when he passed the finishing line, donations, including Gift Aid, had reached £3,717; they now stand at £4,762.75.

It’s not too late to donate via his fundraising page.

Thank you again for all your support and huge thanks to Richard.

Survivor criticises US court's leniency

District Attorney: County of Santa ClaraIn a US court case, Apple executive Neha Rastogi alleged that she suffered 10 years of abuse at the hands of her husband, Abhishek Gattani, the CEO of a US startup.

The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office let him plead no contest to offensive touching and felony accessory after the fact and therefore agreed to a deal in which he would serve less than two full weeks in jail.

The deal had been agreed within court and the judge was on holiday when Neha was allowed to read out her impact statement to the courtroom.

Here is an excerpt from her powerful statement:

I feel disgraced by the charges – 3 years of abuse towards our child and 10 years of abuse towards me has equated to 15 days of his life in jail. The system has shown me that concerns over Abhishek’s immigration status has completely trampled rights of my daughter and my own. How is it that this is the second time he has been convicted of Domestic Violence and this is the charge?

 

New Police and Crime Plan for Thames Valley

Police & Crime Commissioner - Thames ValleyThe Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has produced a Police and Crime Plan for the Thames Valley which covers April 2017 - March 2021.

Under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 the PCC must produce a Police and Crime Plan which sets out the Commissioner's strategic police and crime objectives for the Thames Valley with regard to the policing of the area, crime and disorder reduction, and the discharge by Thames Valley of its national or international functions

Behind Closed doors documentary BAFTA nominated

The 2016 documentary in which two of our IDVA clients shared their suffering and journey after escaping their abusers has landed a Bafta nomination in the Single Documentary classification. 

Director Anna Hall said she was 'so proud' to be nominated, and credited her 'amazing' team for helping the documentary get national recognition. One survivor, Jemma, went on to show her gratitude for the support and motivation she had been given, tweeting: "It's been a rough but rewarding journey."

Oxfordshire women Jemma and Sabrina were supported through their ordeals by a team from Oxford-based charity Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse, Thames Valley Police and A2Dominion’s Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Services. A third woman, Helen, from Berkshire, also featured in the programme and was supported by Slough’s DASH charity.

Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy (PEEL) Reports

On April 12 Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary published their 2016 PEEL assessments.

PEEL is HMIC’s annual assessment of police forces in England and Wales. Forces are assessed throughout the year on their effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy. At the end of the year, all inspection findings, graded judgments and analysis, along with Her Majesty’s Inspectors’ professional judgment, are brought together to produce a rounded assessment of each force’s performance.

Below is an excerpt from the report on Thames Valley Police from their latest inspection last year:

Requesting Testimonials from DA Champs

Reducing the Risk of Domestic AbuseAs with any charity, we are often asked for evidence of the usefulness of networks of Domestic Abuse Champions. We frequently hear stories of something working well, Champs running our quiz with their teams or beginning an initiative in the workplace, but we want to start recording the advantages of DA Champions properly.

Many of you have hopefully found benefit from the 2 day training, or in simply getting to know another DA Champion from another agency.

It may be that you've been able to highlight issues and signpost accordingly to another agency. You may have received a referral from a DA champion into your service which would not otherwise had found you.

You may have found something useful on the website, our social media or monthly bulletin that you've shared with colleagues to help spread awareness of the issues.

Whatever benefits you've come across - we would like to know.

PCC wants feedback from practitioners

Police & Crime Commissioner - Thames ValleyThe Thames Valley Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has commissioned the services of Perpetuity to carry out a victim needs assessment in Thames Valley. Perpetuity is a research company based in Tunbridge Wells and comprises of a team of researchers including Charlotte Howell, Caitlyn McGeer, and Martin Gill. The main aims of the victim needs assessment are to assess the emotional and practical support needs of victims, the differing needs of Thames Valley’s diverse communities, and how services might help design out inequalities in access.

You are invited to take part in this survey, which will take about 15 minutes. You will be asked your views on a range of issues including:

  • Perspectives on current service provisions
  • Views about why victims do not report crimes to the police
  • Gaps in the services offered to victims.
  • Any suggestions you have to improve victim services in Thames Valley.

Protective result for future victims

With all the sad talk of cuts in services and victims not supporting the criminal justice process, there was one golden response this week from London.

It saw a convicted offender jailed for 3 years for ABH, Perverting the Course of Justice and Intimidation of a Crown Witness. The unusual twist though is that an order was issued that requires him to report any new relationship to police which survives 14 days; Kylle Godfrey is believed to be the first person to be subject to this type of order and it allows police to subsequently inform partners of his previous violent behaviour.

Statistics reveal more victims are not supporting criminal justice

A recent study by law firm Simpson Millar using Freedom of Information statistics revealed that more than 30% of domestic abuse victims are not supporting police investigations. In 2016 over 160,000 victims of domestic abuse in England withdrew their support for charges against their abusers; this represented an increase of nearly 40 per cent over 2015 figures.

This reluctance to engage with the criminal justice process has been with us for many years; while there are a range of factors feeding in to it, we and other domestic abuse organisations are extremely concerned that Government cuts to police services, reductions in availability of Legal Aid and the loss of funding for specialist suport services are all contributing to making the problem worse than ever.

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