PCC backs landmark moments for Domestic Abuse victims

18/07/2019

The government’s Domestic Abuse Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons yesterday signalling a major step forward in transforming the criminal justice response to this crime.

This legislation will finally recognise Domestic Abuse (DA) as the complex crime it is and finally give it an appropriate definition. This will outline, for the first time, that DA goes beyond crimes of violence and includes those who are psychologically coerced, as well as those who are denied access to their finances.

Victims will also no longer have to face cross-examination in the family court by their perpetrators and new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Orders will be introduced. This will further protect victims and place much needed restrictions on the actions of offenders.

This milestone for DA victims comes in the same week as a published report from the Rural Crime Network, of which Sussex is a member, looking into the impact of DA in our more isolated rural communities.

This is a piece of work that has been championed by PCC’s nationally and, locally, PCC Katy Bourne is also on the case. She has commissioned Sussex Community Development Association to work alongside local charity, The Rita Project on a Rural Domestic & Sexual Abuse Recovery Project.

This will provide some much needed insight to both the police and other local agencies on whether the current DA victim support services are reaching the rural communities and if crimes of this type are being reported to the police and recorded correctly.

Mrs Bourne comments:

“The Domestic Abuse Bill rightly recognises the complex nature of these crimes and puts the needs of victims and their families at the forefront. The proposed measures should hopefully encourage more victims to come forward in the knowledge that they will be believed and proper action will be taken.

“I will continue to be a champion for all victims of crime and fully support the work undertaken on a national level by my colleague, PCC Julia Mulligan. In Sussex, I don’t want our rural communities to feel isolated and out of touch with the police and other support services. This is why I have funded nearly £50,000 from my victims’ budget to host community engagement sessions in our rural areas.

“This project will provide vital evidence of the needs in our rural communities, an area which has previously had only limited research, and will add evidence to the current national picture of rural isolation and the need for domestic abuse resources.”

Natalie, a domestic abuse victim living in Sussex shares why she thinks it is so important to have support services in place.

“I feel it’s really important that people, in any area, aren’t stuck in these types of relationships, feeling isolated and alone. They need to find the courage to step away, but it’s hard. I went to The Portal, a local charity. I got amazing advice from a guy I will never forget, he was so inspiring. He made me feel comfortable and safe. The support groups were amazing. I feel when you see that someone else has got through it; it gives you the feeling that ‘yeah I can do that too’."

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