Cygnet Law wants to see the new Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech end the postcode lottery experienced by victims of domestic violence.
The Redcar law firm, which works with victims of domestic violence and is a supporter of local charity Eva Women’s Aid, wants to see a consistent level of support and understanding by all agencies working with victims of domestic violence. This covers all professional services that may come into contact with a victim from police and social services, through to medical professionals and courts.
It hopes that the Bill will provide clarity on related issues and create a specific definition of what constitutes domestic violence. This in turn will help to underpin measures, which will provide consistent level of support for victims.
Currently, the wide range of related offences and procedures implemented across the country, in addition to the regional variation in police responses to those crimes, means that victims often feel let down by the justice system.
As part of the Bill, Government will appoint a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner, whose job it will be to implement measures to protect survivors and raise awareness of issues surrounding domestic violence. However, their most important role will be to hold agencies, local authorities and the legal system to account in relation to domestic violence issues.
Gemma Brooke, a Solicitor at Cygnet Law and member of Resolution First for Family Law, specialises in cases involving domestic violence. She said: “The Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill is chance for the Government to make a step-change in the nation’s approach to dealing with victims and get rid of the postcode lottery, which sees huge variation in charges and prosecutions across the country.
“It’s vital that the Government acts quickly on its commitment to pass the Bill through Parliament and appoint the Commissioner, so that we can begin to make a positive change and help the hundreds of thousands of people who are abused every year.
“Whilst there are currently many fantastic organisations and individuals working with victims, it is still too common to hear that not all of them have the skills, awareness or understanding that they should have when dealing with such issues. It seems that expertise and implementation varies wildly across the country, which is just not acceptable.
“Once appointed, it should be a key priority for the Commissioner to ensure that all agencies working with victims of domestic abuse – no matter what their role – are offering a consistent level of support with clear and effective protocols. Only then can we begin to end that postcode lottery.”