NEWS!!!!! "DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CAMPAIGNER WINS LEGAL VICTORY"
OUR STATEMENT IN REPLY:
The Protection Of Victims Act 2014 - Eve's Law
We welcome today's announcement by the Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Teresa May MP, that the Government acknowledge that there are such serious problems with the disclosure of the confidential details of victims by the courts and other organisations, in a variety of different situations, that Government action must now be taken.
This acknowledgement follows our campaign, launched in the Autumn of 2013, to secure what we have termed 'Eves Law.'
We further welcome the Governments "commitment to put in place a new code of practice to ensure that safe addresses of victims of domestic and sexual abuse are protected."
The Home Secretary has today stated, "this will take effect where victims might otherwise have to reveal details of their addresses to people who could threaten them - for example in court cases unrelated to their abuse, or when required for their children's school records, or the family's access to benefits."
We would like to put on record our gratitude to Dan Jarvis MP, Shadow Minister for Justice, who has tirelessly championed our cause in Parliament and beyond. We cannot thank him enough for his work on behalf of victims of domestic violence.
Our gratitude also extends to the Rt Hon Damian Green MP, Minister of State for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims who has obviously listened carefully to our concerns, expressed both directly and via Mr Jarvis.
We would also like to thank the Police & Crime Commissioners from around the country for supporting The Protection Of Victims Act 2014 Eve's Law especially PCC Shaun Wright, South Yorkshire who is leading the Police Campaign.
However, this is not the end of the matter.
The evidence we have submitted to the Ministry of Justice, and now unequivocally accepted by the Government, clearly demonstrates that victims have been and continue to be put at risk of serious harm. Indeed the evidence we have collated shows beyond any doubt that victims have and will continue to be harmed unless and until the problem we have highlighted is put to an end.
A new code of practice, of the sort we suggested to the Ministry Of Justice, is a significant step in the right direction. It cannot be overstated how important such a code is to the protection of victims, but such a code must in our opinion impose mandatory obligations to regulate the practice of those subject to it, with real sanctions for breaches.
A voluntary code not supported by the force of primary legislation has no teeth and, although well meaning in its aims, will ultimately fail to protect victims. Why wait, we ask, for the inevitable failure of a voluntary code? Once the problem has been accepted - which it now has - the next logical step is to prevent future difficulties with the full weight of the law.
We are reassured in our position by the continuing support of Mr Jarvis and over 80 Members of Parliament, from all sides of the House of Commons, who have signed Early Day Motion 900, calling for the immediate introduction of Eve's Law. This is in addition to the significant front bench support we have from The Labour Party, the Shadow Home Secretary and the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice/Lord Chancellor.
This coming week Parliament continues it's scrutiny of the Criminal Justice and Court Bill. This presents a perfect opportunity for a suitable amendment to introduce Eve's Law to give the Governments code of conduct the legislative support it requires.
May we also take this opportunity to welcome the roll out of Clare's Law by the Government, another significant step in the right direction. Our residual hope is that the Police handle negative disclosures with extreme care due to non reporting and that their over stretched resources can manage the additional pressure.
The time has now come for the Government to support the proposed Domestic Abuse Act, plus revisit and 'beef up', as we have also suggested, the Code of Practise for victims and Crime without further delay.
We all know the shocking statistics that are linked with domestic violence. It is perhaps suffice to say that a failure to implement much needed legislation - including Eve's Law - fails past and future victims.
Accordingly. and for the reasons stated, our campaign for Eve's Law will continue unabated.
David Malone, Red Lion Chambers
Eve Thomas, OneVoice Never Silenced
GOVERNMENT NOW NEED TO GIVE THE PROTECTION OF VICTIMS ACT 2014 THE "TEETH" OF PRIMARY LEGISLATION - VOLUNTARY CODE IS WELCOME BUT WILL FAIL!
Under current domestic legislation it is possible for a victim of domestic violence/abuse to be sent to prison for withholding their safe/flee address.
Earlier this year I was held in contempt of court after refusing to disclose my safe/flee address, the court had my home address. A warrant was subsequently issued for my arrest but I handed myself in to Manchester Civil Justice Centre on the 29th August 2013 and went before His Honour Judge Platts who was sending me to HMP Styal for 14 days because I continued to refuse to disclose not only my safety net but my children’s too, our sanctuary from a violent man.
I had provided to the court a full disclosure and statement of truth which went into detail of the abuse and violence we had suffered, I included police log numbers, crime reference numbers, copies of my restraining orders and the documentation from not only the court case when he was convicted of battery in 2011 but also when he broke the restraining order and was found guilty in January of this year. We are deemed as at high risk from homicide and fire and have not only a domestic violence marker but a vulnerable adult marker on my property.
I cannot stress enough how important a safe/flee address is and yes I was willing to go to prison to protect this.
On the 1st September 2013 the national victims campaign Eve's Law/Eve's Marker began which revealed bad practise and victims being exposed to risk and danger throughout the country and has received national press coverage.
A victim of domestic violence/abuse, rape, stalking etc should never be held in contempt of court and face prison for withholding their flee/safe address. This is an infringement of human rights and reveals a dangerous conflict in domestic legislation and human rights and puts victims in direct danger!
As the loophole was revealed during a very public court case this year what followed was shocking. Here's just a few examples -
Refuge staff - women and men who work tirelessly with victims of domestic violence and abuse threatened with legal action by Judges because they refuse to disclose a victims safe address -
Victims safe addresses disclosed on court documentation - anti molestation orders served with safe address on
Late night "welfare checks" by police officers to refuges on the abusers/perps request
Safe address disclose and failure of police to recognise the dangers/risks
(2 women are MURDERED every week by a partner or ex partner - it is ok bleating out the statistics & saying you do all you can but when a safe address is disclosed it is SERIOUS!)
I am not here to bad mouth services, I am a BIG supporter of the police and know only too well how stretched they are but victims NEED to be taken seriously, their fears and anxieties. We all have one goal and that is to beat this, to break the cycle - to encourage silent victims to report we NEED to ensure their safety.
Eve's Law - Eve's Marker - common sense
2014 Victims Year!
We hope you will support our national campaign to protect all victims by signing the petition.
Eve's Law/Eve's Marker has the support of the Labour Party and is an Early Day Motion
A national Police Campaign has also been launched and is led by Shaun Wright, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire Police.
“Dear Ms Thomas
We fully support the campaign of OneVoice Never Silenced. Our refuge has been running for more than forty years. During this time there has undoubtedly been progress made in the quality of services for women and children who have been subjected to abuse in Britain however we continue to experience the impact of the short-sighted and ill-informed judgments and systems of the UK courts.
Lack of personalization in favour of the sole focus of legal judgment has meant that victims of domestic abuse have had their addresses and other personal information carelessly leaked to perpetrators.
In the last twelve months alone two women residing in our refuge have been rendered unsafe after our address has been given out by the court to their ex-partners. Additionally police officers have been given our address and inadvertently continued the harassment of women and their children undertaking “welfare checks” at the request of perpetrators of abuse, the most recent involved an officer attending the address late at night and asking for the whereabouts of an ex resident (who had been moved to another refuge after her partner had continued to pose a threat to her and her children.) Whilst this example does not relate directly to the courts it highlights a lack of understanding of the issue plus the undeniable continuation of poor attitudes of workers operating within the criminal justice system. After all, serious violent crimes perpetrated by partners of victims are still often described as “domestic incidents.”
We have come across numerous incidents of bad practice, compounding the suffering of victims and their children after a prolonged experience of abuse. Each incident breeds doubt in the criminal justice system which can deter victims from reporting these crimes. We want systems to be simplified and made more accessible to victims of domestic abuse. We also want a legal system that recognizes the importance of not only confidentiality but the safety of victims of abuse. These are not unreasonable expectation just common sense.
Forever striving for the end of abuse against women and children.”
Domestic violence cost our country £16 billion a year yet every week 2 women are murdered, a figure that has not changed in over 3 decades. We also have to remember that men are victims too and 1 man is also murdered every 3 weeks but it is the 100’s and 1000’s of children that are also affected by domestic violence/abuse.
“Eves Law” is not a woman’s law although Eve was the first woman so is all women; “Eves Law” is a law for all victims and is a valuable opportunity to initiate talks and change. David Malone named “Eves Law” and yes it is very unusual for a new law to be passed without a death but isn’t it time that the “lessons learnt” really were.
Eve's Law/Eve's Marker has received significant press attention - this I welcome with open arms because so many silent victims are now coming forward and being signposted to help.
You can view media links for Eve's Law and Eve's Marker by clicking here.