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Standing together against domestic violence


'Standing Together have been long-serving and highly valued Members of the Metropolitan Police Authority's Domestic and Sexual Violence Board, supporting the MPA to robustly scrutinise, monitor, and support the Met Police to continually improve its' service to Londoners.'

Valerie Brasse, Co-chair, Metropolitan Police Authority, Domestic and Sexual Violence Board

Our Work Nationally

Standing Together was born out of the recognition that operational partnerships were essential to combat domestic violence. Learning from the Duluth Project in Minnesota, USA, we developed the first coordinated community response (CCR) in the UK, in Hammersmith and Fulham.

This was focused on the criminal justice system and included all the agencies who would (or should) have responsibility for dealing effectively with the victim of domestic violence, thier children or the perpetrator. We wanted to make the victim and child safe - so we held their needs at the core of everything we did - but made the statutory sector accountable for effective decision making. This removed the onus on the victim to decide whether a prosecution should proceed. We wanted to stop the victim being asked what they wanted and we expected the state to take the appropriate responsibility.

Of course a crucial element of this was also holding the perpetrator to account for their actions. So from the moment the police received a call (often via 999) there was an expectation that they would secure the safety of the victim and any children, gather evidence and arrest the perpetrator where an offence had been committed. Once the arrest had been made the case would be built effectively, the Crown Prosecution Service would seek to prosecute, the Court would understand these cases and deliver appropriate judgements and Probation would work with the perpetrator.

This system was reviewed by the Government in the Crime Reduction Programme at the beginning of this century and this led to the development of the Domestic Violence Coordinator role being instituted in most localities in the country.

Standing Together’s success in establishing the CCR led to many tangible benefits:

  • Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences were an idea which had its genesis in Hammersmith and Fulham, but great credit is due to the vision of Jan Pickles in Cardiff who created the highly effective meetings that are so common across the UK

  • Specialist Domestic Violence Courts actually began in Leeds but we were the second version, based at West London Magistrates Court, and have been central to their introduction across the UK. We helped write the resource manual, worked on the review and accreditation and remain the only voluntary sector organisation coordinating such a court.

As practice and understanding developed it was apparent that the criminal justice system was too narrow a focus. If we wanted to really make an impact on the culture of domestic violence and its devastating effect on victims we had to include every agency that had, or has, contact with victims, children or perpetrators. This meant using the excellent relationships we had created with Children and Adult Services, Housing, Health, in all its guises, and the broader voluntary sector, to address the problems at the first opportunity. From this the policy of prevention and earlier intervention was developed. We continue to believe that this broad response is essential, that partnerships will deliver safety and change, but that there is some way to go.

 

All this learning and good practice has led to a national role for Standing Together. For example we:

• Have developed national guidance for domestic violence partnerships in conjunction with the Home Office

• Deliver consultancy around all aspects of such partnerships to every corner of the country (Counties, Districts, and Unitaries)

• Coordinate the national Domestic Violence Coordinators Network

• Advise National and Local Government on all aspects of domestic violence partnerships (e.g. being members of the Health Taskforce reporting on violence against women and girls issues and of the Metropolitan Police Authority Domestic and Sexual Violence Board)

• Produced research that demonstrates that domestic violence is often not identified by the statutory sector and when it is, information is rarely shared - see Completing the Jigsaw

• Deliver specialised training throughout the country.

Our intention is to continue to be at the vanguard of change through partnership. Our experience across the UK shows that much work is still necessary. As a nation we are in the foothills of the mountain that is the cultural shift necessary to address gender violence. We will not forget that reporting may have increased but the violence remains. The financial and social impact of this crime places a heavy responsibility on the statutory sector to do more, in a time of less. We will be helping them to deliver the possible and perhaps, in some cases, do the extraordinary.


For more information about our National work please contact Nicole Jacobs.

 

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Last Modified: 14th Jan 2014 

'Standing Together have been a valued member of the CPS Violence Against Women external consultation group since 2003. Within this group they have provided considered advice and support to the CPS and shown strategic oversight of the issues we face in prosecuting DV cases. They regularly informed and led solution-focused discussions. They have also provided key advice on the development, review and accreditation of specialist domestic violence courts across the criminal justice system.'

Violence Against Women Strategy Manager, CPS