Domestic abuse in the news

This case has recently hit the headlines with an ex partner of a TV presenter persisting in contacting her despite a Restraining Order existing. It includes a comment that the government has apologised to Ms Maitlis after Vines was able to write to her from HMP Bullingdon in Oxfordshire, and again while living in a bail hostel. (BBC News)

A stalker who has harassed Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis for two decades has been sentenced for breaching a restraining order for the 12th time.

Edward Vines, 49, was serving a 45-month sentence when he wrote to her mother Marion Maitlis last year. He sent two letters in May and October, Nottingham Crown Court heard. Judge Stuart Rafferty QC said Vine had a "lifelong obsession" with the journalist and sentenced him to a further three years in jail.

We often highllight cases where men have been abused but this article in Metro is actually written by a survivor, who happens to also be a man. It makes interesting reading with messages similar to those we hear from female survivors but with additional hurdles, such as a lack of refuge. Everyone should be encouraged to come forward and talk about what they are living with. (Metro)

It was my daughter who made me aware that Caroline Flack had been arrested for allegedly hitting her boyfriend, Lewis Burton. My daughter knows what domestic abuse looks like, because I was a victim. I’ve found it extremely offensive to see some people laughing this matter off as a complete joke.

Clearly, seeing a man be vulnerable or hurt challenges the foundations that they have built their whole belief system on. It’s a very blinkered view of a very taboo topic.

This article discusses how Devon & Cornwall police are recording more reports of domestic abuse. It also highlights that in 2016 they managed 67 cases of Coercive & Controlling Behaviour (a new crime then) whilst last year saw this rise to 402 cases. The Police & Crime Commissioner for the area is also a survivor of domestic abuse. She said: “Anyone can be the victim of domestic abuse. I have been. I chose to report my case to the police and justice was done." She hid the details of her abuse until last year but now urges victims to come forward for support. (ITV News)

Devon and Cornwall have seen an increase in the number of domestic abuse incidents reported so far this year. January usually sees an increase in abuse following the festive period and 2,637 people made contact with the police in January 2019 — already a rise on the previous year's total.

However the local police force believes that many more victims have not come forward and wants to encourage them to do so.

Recent years have seen massive changes in how police, CPS and criminal courts deal with abuse and, although by no means perfect, it is improving. Many victims and supporting practitioners will have experience of how family courts deal with such cases and it can be very variable, as in the case detailed in the article below. Education is always the key to spreading awareness of many of the issues and this enables all agencies to identify the problems, support victims and address the problems correctly. (BBC News)

A women's charity has criticised a family court judge for a "misogynistic and legally inaccurate" rape ruling. Judge Robin Tolson dismissed a woman's allegation she had been raped by her then partner, saying she did "nothing physically" to stop him.

The woman argued the judge's approach led to her losing the legal battle with the man, which centred on their son. Women's Aid told the BBC family courts were not safe spaces for domestic and sexual abuse survivors.

This article looks at the nationally high attrition rates for prosecution cases where, for a variety of reasons, victims withdraw from the process. This article looks at the claim that cutbacks to police resources are one reason evidence is being missed.. (Guardian Online)

Police and prosecutors are dropping domestic abuse cases far too readily when victims become reluctant to pursue complaints against often violent partners, an official inspectorate report has warned.

This article discusses new legislation in the way Scottish Courts accomodate child witnesses. Scottish Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said the legislation marked a significant milestone in Scotland's journey to protect children as they interact with the justice system. (BBC Scotland)

Child witnesses in the most serious crimes are no longer to be asked to give evidence in court. Instead they will be questioned in dedicated witness suites and their testimony will be pre-recorded to be played later to a jury. The Vulnerable Witnesses Act which came into force on Monday, draws on the Scandanavian system of Barnahus — or children's house.

This article discusses the Welsh Education Minister’s decision to introduce a compulsory curriculum in Wales for religion, relationships and sexuality education, where she announces plans for ‘sensitive and careful implementation’ (Welsh Government website)

Parents will not be able to prevent their children from learning about religion, relationships and sexuality in the new Curriculum. Education Minister Kirsty Williams made the announcement today emphasising the need for ‘careful and sensitive implementation’ of the decision.

Estranged fathers with an alleged or proven history of domestic abuse can use Parental Alienation claims to discredit mothers and gain parenting time with their children, a new study shows. 

Parental Alienation (PA) is recognised by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) as ‘when a child’s hostility towards one parent is not justified and is the result of psychological manipulation by the other parent’. 

The Welsh Government does seem to lead the way with UK initiatives regarding domestic abuse. This suggestion stems from a number of countries ensuring victims of DA get the right message from their workplace, the chance to take some time off work to make any changes they need to in order to stay safe. This investment may help reduce the estimated £66m that domestic abuse costs the UK each year. (BBC News)

Public sector staff experiencing domestic abuse should be entitled to paid leave, the Welsh Government has said. Some public bodies already offer paid leave for their staff, but there are calls to make it an explicit commitment. The Welsh Government and Neath Port Talbot council have already introduced paid leave for victims. Chief Whip Jane Hutt has urged other councils to follow Neath Port Talbot. 

The Drive project is for perpetrators identified as ‘high harm’, and the evaluation shows that the project has significantly reduced their current use of abusive behaviour and the risks that these perpetrators pose. For example, the number of participants on the programme who used sexual abuse reduced by 88% by the end of the programme. And police data backs it up, with reduction in recorded crime, not only during the project but up to 12 months after too. (Drive Project Website)

The Drive Project launched in April 2016 and has been piloted in three areas across England and Wales (Essex, South Wales and West Sussex) from 2016-2019.