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New police powers will help domestic violence victims in Gloucester

By The Citizen  |  Posted: June 02, 2014

New police powers will help keep domestic violence victims safe at home

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Victims of domestic violence have welcomed new police powers aimed to prevent flashpoints in the home before they happen.

From today, high-ranking officers in the county will be able to place 48-hour banning orders on anyone suspected of posing a threat of domestic violence to their partner, despite no charges being pressed.

It will prevent that person from going near a potential victim – even if it means being shut out from their own home.

Often the police do not have enough evidence to charge a suspected domestic abuser because, for example, the victim is too scared to give a statement.

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The new powers will allow police to make sure the suspect does not come in contact with the victim for 48 hours, to give that victim time to consider whether they want to provide evidence, as well as for their own protection. Officers will monitor suspects and if they try to contact the victim they will be arrested. A 48-hour Domestic Violence Protection Notice can be authorised by a Superintendent before a suspect leaves custody.

Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson from the Public Protection Bureau at Gloucestershire Police said: “At a time when victims are vulnerable and lack the confidence to pursue a criminal prosecution.

“The use of the DVPN order allows officers to better safeguard individuals. They will also provide the victim the opportunity to engage with specialist services and the time and space to think things through in a safe environment, without the fear of further threats or violence.

“Perpetrators will be signposted to appropriate support agencies in an effort to prevent further re-offending.”

Police chiefs looked at trials of the scheme in Greater Manchester, West Mercia and Wiltshire over a 15-month period in 2011 and 2012.

It was then subject to Home Office evaluation and approval before being passed over to police powers.

Di Martin, chairman of the domestic abuse and sexual violence forum in the Forest of Dean, said: “For some people it may not make a difference but for others it will. In some cases, police will have taken the perpetrator away but then they come back.If the victim has already made a statement, they could then suffer a backlash of violence.

“If it is an extreme case and the person is violent, then they will usually be arrested, but that isn’t always the case.

“These new orders may help victims get the support they need more quickly. We have to try it, it can only get better.

“It won’t replace positive policing, but if there is ever doubt, then these orders will help and the police can get more positive in their approach in domestic violence cases.”

The orders come into force, two months after the launch of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme – known as Clare’s Law.

It provides information that could protect someone from being a victim of attack.

The initiative is named after 36-year-old Clare Wood who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009. A trial saw 100 people passed crucial information on their partners.

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