Should domestic violence services be gender neutral?

In Shropshire, agencies and organisations from the Shropshire County Wide Domestic Abuse Forum, which includes members from the Police, Health services, Probation and the Council have agreed to review domestic abuse services and develop support for male victims. This is an agreed action in the current Domestic Abuse Strategy:

The Shropshire County Wide Domestic Abuse Forum recently allocated funds for male victims training delivered to multi agency professionals and throughout the year has provided information packs and leaflets to raise awareness of domestic abuse faced by men, promoting the Men’s Advice line which is the helpline for men experiencing domestic abuse:

However, there are currently no specialist domestic abuse services for men in Shropshire and concerns for provision for male victims of domestic abuse continue to be raised in the UK.

In March this year, there was a article in the Guardian which showed that men should talk about their experiences because ‘Domestic Violence happens to men too’. For full article, follow link:

Mankind launched a domestic violence advert in May this year, which highlighted our response to violence against men. To view the short film, follow link:

And this month the Guardian looked at whether domestic violence services should be gender neutral. For full article see link:

We clearly need services for all affected by domestic abuse, including men, women and children, for victims and for perpetrators because all of us have a right to live free from violence and abuse.


Freedom Shropshire Team

Voluntary Pepertrator Programme Event at Shirehall

Different agencies and organisations across the county, including Children Services, health representatives and Police,  came together yesterday to consider options for providing a Voluntary Perpetrator Programme in Shropshire. The Event was held at Shirehall, hosted by the Domestic Abuse Coordinator for Shropshire Council, Jo Berry and supported by SEEDS Shropshire – Survivor’s Empowering & Educating Domestic Abuse Services.

Liz Caulder, Gina Bright - representatives from SEEDS Shropshire

Liz Caulder, Gina Bright – representatives from SEEDS Shropshire

This Event followed on from the first Voluntary Perpetrator Programme Event when Rebekah Jones presented her report entitled: ‘A Report into the Feasibility of Establishing a Programme for Non-Convicted Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse in Shropshire’. The Shropshire County Wide Domestic Abuse Forum agreed to invite the organisations providing programmes in the surrounding areas of Shropshire and beyond, who were highlighted in this report.

The professionals in attendance were privileged to hear from Elizabeth Scroop from Relate Wolverhampton, Mark Farrell from Stonham and Mark Farrell from Ignition. The expertise and experience of the presenters were invaluable and the workshops and question time that proceeded enabled partners to explore the issues, their concerns and the way forward for Shropshire.

Elizabeth Scroop, Mark Farrell & Mark Farrell

Elizabeth Scroop, Mark Farrall, Dr. Mark Farrall

The findings and information provided by this panel of experts will be pulled together in a report for The Shropshire County Wide Domestic Abuse Forum, the Safer Stronger Communities Partnership Board and the Shropshire Safeguarding Board.

There is currently no programme for non-convicted perpetrators of domestic abuse in Shropshire and partners are agreed that this is a gap in service. Agencies and organisations will need to work together to address the root cause of  domestic abuse – the perpetrators behaviour.


Freedom Shropshire Team

The National Centre for Domestic Violence on the World Cup

During the last World Cup, the Association of Chief Police Officers commented that incidences of domestic abuse increased by over 25%:

The National Centre of Domestic Violence ( NCDV) reported this World Cup, that they had also experienced the rise and even at the start of the World Cup, were already seeing reports increasing.

The NCDV, like many organisations supporting families affected by domestic abuse, have made changes to ensure they can cope with this increased case volume. The NCDV state that they have in fact employed and trained more staff than ever before.

The NCDV have in place systems and procedures to enable them to obtain Non Molestation Orders within 24 hours and state that they will use their best endeavours to maintain this level of support through this very busy period.

The International Advertising Agency JWT London produced a 30 second film for the NCDV that demonstrates perfectly the fear and apprehension felt by victims. Please visit link below:

The NCDV National Operations Manager, Mark Groves made the following comments:

“Every day of every year victims of domestic abuse suffer in silence, this film highlights the additional suffering during a period which is generally considered an exciting time that most people welcome in their lives.

It is a fact that major sporting events like the World Cup fuel the anxiety in already tense relationships, victims need to know that support services are aware and are waiting for their call.”


Freedom Shropshire Team

Police and partners campaign during World Cup to deter domestic abuse

Kick off at home and face a 28 day ban

Police and partners working together across West Mercia are launching a joint campaign during the World Cup 2014 to deter perpetrators of domestic abuse and encourage those affected to seek help.

Det Supt Stephen Cullen said “Our statistics indicate that reported domestic abuse can increase during international football tournaments by 27% on days when England plays. Heightened emotions and alcohol among the population as a whole are all contributory factors.”

“We are not saying that football fans are more likely to perpetrate domestic abuse, but that football fans make up a wide cross-section of society, and domestic abuse happens throughout all levels of society.”

“We are sending the clear message to perpetrators of domestic abuse that if you ‘kick off at home’ you can expect to face a 28 day ban.”

From 2 June, new powers mean that officers across the whole of West Mercia entering a home in the immediate aftermath of domestic violence can prevent the perpetrator from returning to the address and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days by initially serving a Notice on them.

West Mercia Police initially piloted the scheme in Worcestershire between June 2011 and 2012. It was later rolled out in Herefordshire and from 2 June to Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin.

The magistrates’ court must then hear the case for the Domestic Violence Protection Order within 48 hours of the Notice being made.

If granted, the Order may last between a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 28 days. This strikes a balance between immediate protection for the victim and judicial oversight.

This is one of many measures we will have in place to address domestic abuse during the World Cup.

Det Supt Cullen added “As well as improving immediate protection for victims and their children, this allows the victim a level of breathing space to consider their options, with the help of a support agency. It also allows the police to look at the investigation in the cold light of day and work with the victim to arrive at the right outcome. “

Bill Longmore, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia, said: “I am pleased to see that West Mercia Police and its partners are taking positive action to provide a focus on preventing domestic abuse during the forthcoming World Cup. New domestic abuse powers have recently been introduced and will be actively used to minimise harm in our communities during the football tournament.”

Jan Frances of Women’s Aid said “Like other events where there is heightened emotion, stress and possible disappointment, the World Cup is a time when we may expect a rise in domestic abuse. Our helpline is available 24 hours a day for advice, information and support, and we would urge anyone who thinks they may be at risk to ring us. Don’t suffer in silence – we can help”.

Det Supt Cullen added “We will be engaging with statutory and voluntary agencies including the Glade SARC and the courts to heighten awareness that there may be a potential increase in reporting of Domestic abuse during this period.

We will also be looking at other safeguarding measures that can be put in place.

For example, by using analytical work to identify potential repeat offenders of domestic abuse we can be ready to act sooner. This may mean increased patrols in the area able to respond quicker, briefing local officers so they are aware, personally visiting the potential perpetrator and referral to MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) if the circumstances are assessed as high risk, so that a variety of protective measures can be put in place.

We will also be promoting the use of body worn video where available when attending incidents of domestic abuse and extra resources will be put in place the day following a match where a game falls on a weekend for example. This will consist of a team of police staff as well as dedicated investigative capability so that enquiries around domestic abuse incidents can be fast tracked.

Please look out for the ‘World Cup’ posters that police and partners have distributed across the region both to deter perpetrators of domestic abuse and encourage those affected by domestic abuse to seek help. Police and partners will also be using social media to inform, raise awareness and challenge the public’s views around domestic abuse – please follow us on twitter @wmerciapolice.

One way we aim to challenge the public’s views around domestic abuse is by promoting A Call to Men UK’s YouTube clip. This tells the story about a boy who is asked how he would feel if he was told he played football like a girl. The boy said he would be ‘destroyed’. He shouldn’t feel this way and the video clip explains why. You can view the clip by following this link

For help and advice please visit for information on support agencies in your area or call the Women’s Aid 24 hour helpline on 0800 783 1359 or for Worcestershire 0800 980 3331

LGBT domestic and sexual violence victims suffer alone

New research suggests LGBT people have “no idea” where to go for help with domestic and sexual violence

NatCen Social Research has published a study into LGBT people’s experience of accessing domestic and sexual violence services, ahead of legislation to end violence against women being introduced in the Welsh Assembly this month. The research finds that LGBT people experiencing abuse feel that services do not cater for them, and in some cases, have been rejected when they have tried to access services.

Awareness of help

In the first instance, there is a lack of awareness that domestic abuse can occur in same-sex relationships. In particular, lesbian participants felt that they were not ‘covered’ by the law, and so were hesitant to contact the police. Service providers, too, acknowledge a lack of LGBT outreach.

Not only do LGBT people face difficulty in coming to terms with abuse, they may also be deterred from accessing services based on broader experience of societal discrimination or because they fear that other services will assume heterosexuality. A 56-65 year old lesbian woman told researchers:

“I needed help but didn’t know how to access any or if there was any available to me.”

Access to help

Domestic abuse services tend to follow a ‘women-only’ or a ‘men-only’ model, which can be problematic for transgender people. Although refuge providers are legally bound to accept people in their recognised gender, professionals note that, in practice, it can be more difficult to find emergency shelter space for transgender people. Of refuge staff, one service provider commented:

“They don’t reply to you or they don’t return your call or they just say, oh no that would be really difficult. Or, actually we’re full. When the All Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline is saying they’ve got three spaces [available].”

Shannon Harvey, Senior Researcher at NatCen Social Research commented:

“We’ve come a long way in recognising LGBT people’s experiences of domestic and sexual violence, but we need to do more to ensure this knowledge is reflected in service provision. Domestic and sexual violence services must become more openly and proactively LGBT-friendly. The Welsh Government’s commissioning of this research should be commended; it signals that the Welsh government is taking the issue seriously. The rest of the UK should follow suit.”

For more information, please contact Naomi.Joyner on 0207 549 9550 or 0773 960 069

For a copy of the research visit:

‘Have Your Say’ online survey for victims & witnesses

‘Have Your Say’ online survey for victims & witnesses to express their own experiences of the Criminal Justice System (CJS). This short survey provides a voice to victims & witnesses, allowing them to comment on any stage of the process and say how they feel services could be improved. All comments are viewed by West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commisioner (PCC) and therefore can make a real difference to how victims & witnesses experience the CJS in the future.

Completed surveys may include comments regarding partner agencies, such as you, about how victims & witnesses were supported through what may have been a very difficult time.

We are asking if you could join forces with us in promoting this survey to anyone who may have been through the CJS process. We can provide posters and cards. Our aim is to reach as many victims & witnesses in West Mercia (Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Herefordshire & Worcestershire) as possible. The survey link can be accessed via

Sarah Joynes, Victim Support, 01905 726885 sarah.joynes

The police response to domestic abuse is not good enough and must be improved, finds HMIC inspection

The final report on the police response to domestic abuse has been released today, this is the press release:

The overall police response to victims of domestic abuse is not good enough and police forces need to take decisive action to rectify this, a report published today by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) finds, following an inspection of all 43 police forces in England and Wales.

In September 2013, HMIC was commissioned by the Home Secretary to inspect the police response to domestic violence and abuse. The report, Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse, found that while most forces and police and crime commissioners have said that domestic abuse is a priority for their areas, this isn’t being translated into an operational reality. HMIC is concerned to find that, despite the progress made in this area over the last decade, not all police leaders are ensuring that domestic abuse is a priority in their forces – it is often a poor relation to other policing activity.

HMIC found alarming and unacceptable weaknesses in some core policing activity, in particular the quality of initial investigation undertaken by responding officers when they are called to a scene. The report also identifies that officers may lack the necessary supervision, knowledge and skills effectively to tackle domestic abuse, and some have poor attitudes.

For the full press release and report –Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse, click links below:


Freedom Shropshire Team

Women’s Aid is urging Police forces across the country to improve response to domestic violence

HMIC report reveals scale of police failings on domestic violence cases

Only one fifth of perpetrators charged with a crime

Women’s Aid is urging Police forces to take immediate action to improve their response to domestic violence cases today, in light of a report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) and research from Women’s Aid which both paint a clear picture of a poor quality and inconsistent response by the police to domestic violence which is causing harm and costing women their lives. The charity, which was involved in the Inspection of police forces in England and Wales, is highlighting that the HMIC report recognised that where police forces have shown leadership, and invested in training and their officers, responses to domestic violence are more effective.

West Mercia Police are urged to implement HMIC’s recommendations to ensure they are able to support the one in four women in Shropshire who will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.

The Women’s Aid survey of 522 women staying in refuges shows:

  • When called to domestic violence incidents, the police charged the perpetrator with a crime in only 18.2% of cases
  • In 32.1% of cases, the police took no further action at all
  • 18.5% of women in refuges didn’t know if any action had been taken against the perpetrator after they called the police, suggesting police may not have kept them adequately informed on the progress of their cases
  • 3.2% of women reported being abused by the police after calling them to report domestic violence

Women’s Aid is calling for the police to be able to recognise and respond effectively to domestic violence, and coercive control in intimate relationships. This requires leadership, effective training and resource. The leaders within West Mercia Police and the local Police and Crime Commissioner are urged to sign up to the Women’s Aid Survivor’s Charter to demonstrate willingness to address the failings identified in the HMIC report. The Charter, which came out of an Inquiry into Women’s Access to Justice, details the minimum treatment a victim of domestic violence should be able to expect from the police and criminal justice agencies, and the rights they have to access justice for domestic violence. To review the charter, click link below:


Freedom Shropshire Team

Community Safety Strategy Consultation

Every three years Shropshire’s Safer Stronger Communities Partnership is required to produce a strategy which is based on an annual Strategic Assessment which identifies which crime types have increased or decreased and ‘vulnerable’ localities. The Assessment forms the basis of the strategy which sets out the priorities that the Partnership will focus on for the next three years.

The Partnership would like to have any feedback or comments on the strategy in respect of the priorities it sets out.

The closing date for comments or feedback is FRIDAY 28th FEBRUARY 2014.

You can download the Draft Strategy simply follow this link via the Freedom Shropshire Website –

Jo Berry and the Freedom Shropshire Team

Check out ‘Freedom Shropshire Special Edition Newsletter: Edition 7′

Check out

‘Freedom Shropshire Special Edition Newsletter:

Edition 7′

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