Empowering aim for home violence victims

PUBLISHED: 11:36 15 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:04 05 July 2010

the inception of a new dedicated domestic violence court in Lowestoft has coincided with the grim news that the police are dealing with more than 125 domestic abuse cases in north Suffolk every month.

the inception of a new dedicated domestic violence court in Lowestoft has coincided with the grim news that the police are dealing with more than 125 domestic abuse cases in north Suffolk every month.

Lowestoft born and bred detective inspector Terry Jones has worked in a variety of roles, including the CID, and most recently with the South Lowestoft Safer Neighbourhood Team.

Now he is heading up child abuse investigations and other areas of victim care, overseeing cases involving domestic abuse, vulnerable adults and serious sexual offences.

“This is a relatively new way of how the police deal with things,” Det Insp Jones said. “In relation to domestic abuse, we get approx-imately 400 referrals a quarter, which is around 130 incidents a month.”

With the introduction of the new specialist court, eight alleged offenders were up before the magistrates at the combined court in Old Nelson Street last week.

“The idea of the domestic violence court is to improve the victims' safety, increase the supp-ort services offered to victims, promote consistent judicial decision-making, and to improve the experience for the victim during such a traumatic time for them,”Det Insp Jones said.

In the months ahead, new targets and partnership working will address the issues identified for victims of domestic abuse. The MARAC scheme (Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conference) will be launched in the autumn with the aim of supplying a care plan for victims and offer services to help them.

On July 24, two men were the first to appear at the new court in Lowestoft, and in the past fortnight more cases have been heard.

Home sessions will be run to empower the victims and help them to change their lives. Det Insp Jones said: “We will offer as much support as possible to vic-tims of domestic abuse. “You don't have to suffer - there is a support network out there to help.”

Programmes for offenders are available, too.

“We will always look to prose-cute people in allegations of domestic abuse where criminal offences have been committed,” Det Insp Jones said. “Domestic abuse affects everyone in the family. The important message is that it's not just about the victim or offender: it affects everyone in the whole family and can affect their whole lives.”

Figures suggest that one in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes. An average of three women a week die as a result of domestic violence and abuse, while a woman victim is likely to have been assaulted 35 times before seeking outside help.

Given that domestic abuse incidents make up nearly a quarter of all violent crime, it is estimated that police receive a call from a victim of domestic abuse every minute. But it is thought that fewer than 35pc of incidents are actually reported to police.

With this in mind, confidential information, help and support is available across Suffolk under the county domestic violence and abuse forum - part of a commit-ment by Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships to reduce domestic violence and abuse in Suffolk.

If you need help or would like more information, telephone the Suffolk domestic abuse 24-hour helpline on 0800 783 5121.

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