Domestic Abuse Partnership and Community Justice Panels

Arrived in Sheffield early afternoon and went to visit two really excellent projects.

Sheffield Domestic Abuse Partnership  As I said in my previous post, I inherited recently, the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) portfolio. So I was very keen to see the new way that Sheffield was handling its Domestic Violence agenda – as they have a new way of working. It’s called the ‘Sheffield Domestic Abuse Partnership’ – and the major difference is that for the first time the volunteers from the sector and the police dealing with Domestic Violence incidents are housed together. This co-location brings together multi-agency working in a new way. The colocation means that things can be handled across so many departments all by speaking to each other.

Having seen the ghastly mess of people in different agencies not knowing what each other was doing, not sharing information appropriately in a timely way n the Peter Connelly case in Haringey, this seems to be an  answer.

Areas elsewhere aspire to this way of working – but having the helpline, the Independent Domestic Violence Advisers, the citywide outreach service, the youth offending service worker and the police Domestic Violence Unit tother with the Children’s Specialist Services Joint Investigation team all in the same space makes the world of difference. Everyone knows each other, what they do, how to approach things. When an incident happens – they can immediately put together the right intervention for the situation – and be on the scene within the hour. This just doesn’t happen elsewhere. There is really too much to put in a blog post – but I have copious information to study now as I think this was a real innovation.

Community Justice Panels I’d always been impressed in the past when I’d heard about these panels but this is the first occasion on which I had had the opportunity to hear first hand from the volunteers and managers – how it all worked.

Restorative Justice works. The figures speak for themselves. From ninety young people who went through the process – only three have re-offended. Those are stats to die for!

The level of nuisance to which this process can be applied is relatively minor – ie anti-social behaviour that people call the police or council about time and time again. Often it is neighbour disputes – and there cannot be a councillor or an MP in the land who doesn’t have a raft of those – long running and with no resolution ever really reached.

An incident happens. The police decide to refer it to the Community Justice Panel. The volunteers go to visit, for example, both parties and talk to them to find a way forward. If the perpetrator agrees to the proposed Justice Panel – it goes forward to the panel where both parties have to appear and speak to each other . Sometimes it is just the process of facing the reality of the impact that your thoughtless or nasty act has had on another human being’s life that makes the break through. Reparation is sought which is appropriate to the ‘crime’. If the perpetrator doesn’t want to go through this process or goes through it but mucks around or doesn’t take it seriously – then it reverts to the law.

But that statistic – out of ninety youngsters only three have re-offended, is truly incredible. And the thing about early intervention like this – is that from what the volunteers were saying – it actually not only deals with the current situation but seems to change those involved for the better.

It’s only been up and running for eighteen months – so early days – but could be a significant model for how to address some types of anti-social behaviour.

So – all in all – a really worthwhile afternoon.

0 thoughts on “Domestic Abuse Partnership and Community Justice Panels

  1. Lynne, you should come to Somerset, and Chard in particular to see the longest running, widest ranging, Restorative Justice scheme.

  2. The issue of violence against women any girls is of vital importance. I’m glad a Lib Dem is in charge of it.

  3. The use of the term “Violence Against Women and Girls” really is very disappointing and very discriminatory.

    The Uk Crime survey regularly shows 40% of domestic violence vicitms to be men and on top of that boys suffer hugely from domestic abuse (anyone remember Baby P? – there’s plenty more like him).

    Originally feminists used dishonest domestic violence statistics to pretend male vicitms didn’t’ exist or bogus surveys to show that they were all lying. Thankfully the statistics authority are putting a stop to most of this now, so the new way to exclude male vicitms has been to re-brand domestic violence as “Violence against women and girls”. This term allows man-haters to ignore male vicitms as they’re not longer even a consideration due to the hugely discriminatory starting point.

    It really is a disgrace to ignore 40% of the victims of such terrible offences and I’d hope the Lib Dems would be putting an end to this misandric nonsense and showing equal concern for all vicitms of abuse rather than just those of the correct gender. Please stop using such gendered language Lynne, I know it’s part of your “remit”, but you should be challenging such a sexist agenda not promoting it.

  4. violence against women and girls is not discriminatory. it is in fact very specific. It specifically addresses violence and abuse against women and girls. It does not at any juncture deny that men are victims of domestic and sexual violence. It is posts like the one above that do little to help any victim of domestic and sexual violence, whether they be male or female.

  5. That’s total nonsense Elizabeth.

    In case you haven’t noticed men suffer far, far more violence than women and girls yet when did you ever hear the government promising to tackle violence against men? The phrase VAWG wouldn’t’ be so bad if equal consideration were given to all victims, but the fact is we’re very much in a society where male vicitms often get next to no help, face scepticism, ridicule and even false arrest!

    Far, far more needs to be done to help recognise and support male vicitms of abuse. The use of sexist phrases such a “Violence against women and girls” simply reinforces the myth that domestic abuse is something that almost exclusively impacts on females.

    Who cares what gender a victim of abuse happens to be. We need to help everyone rather than constantly giving females special status.

  6. Pingback: Tweets that mention Domestic Abuse Partnership and Community Justice Panels | Lynne Featherstone -- Topsy.com

  7. I’m unable to acquire UK citizenship through my British father, because I was born out of wedlock. Since your government loves handing out citizenship to everyone in the world, whilst telling us “bastards” we are too unworthy, I will be husband hunting soon, on my knees and on my back, to gain citizenship. Marrying an abusive partner will get me ILR sooner, without the hassle of staring at the ceiling for too long.

    A couple of punches to the face? Don’t knock it, Lynne. For women born illegitimately, this is our only way to have what all other kids born in marriage, to a British father are automatically allowed to have – citizenship. Except they only have to fill out a passport application. We aren’t allowed this honor.

    I just noticed the new bill to allow the Home Office to remove the passport application fees for children born to British mothers. Nice way to rub it in that illegitimate children born to British fathers are even more sub-human than previously suspected, “Equalities Minister” Lynne. Thanks for the confirmation.

  8. Male victims are not forgotten at all. One in four instances of Domestic Violence are against the man. However, repeated incidents of domestic violence are almost all against women. Men are not ‘left out’ at all – and the unit I describe in my visit deals with all types of domestic violence including men, boys and children.

  9. Lynne do you have a source for your claim that “repeated incidents of domestic violence are almost all against women”?

    I really find that very hard to believe indeed.

  10. Yes – if you write in your query to me at the Home Office – will find the source and give it when I write back. It is in also in Hansard in a response I gave to a question in Equaities Questions.

  11. 1. The Domestic Abuse Partnership you visited isn’t ‘new’ at all and has been in existence for at least 15 years in various parts of the world (http://www.familyjusticecenter.com/) and for over a decade inn the UK – beginning with the Family Justice Centre in Croydon (http://www.croydon.gov.uk/community/dviolence/fjcentre). Sadly many are now disappearing due to the cuts your Government is imposing including the one in Newham which is the nearest to you in London. However even the one in your own constituency (Hearthstone) is a version of the Sheffield one albeit without staff permanently located together.

    2. VAWG has a specific legal meaning in international law and is a description of a set of crime types not a description of victims. It is the fact that these crime types are experienced mainly by women that makes it so hard for men to seek help. This is what is meant when it is said that dv, rape, sex trafficking and so on is gendered – not that men can’t experience them but that it undermines men’s sense of masculinity to experience them which is why services for male victims need to take account of this and not just replicate what works for women.

    3. British Crime Survey figures show that in the past 12 months there were 12.9 million dv incidents against women and 2.5 million against men. Almost half of all male victims experience a single incident of dv so if dv were defined as a pattern of behaviour (ie at least two incidents), it would still be 1 in 4 women but only 1 in 13 men. BCS data also shows that when looking at victims who experience four or more incidents, 89% of victims are women.

  12. Harry I do realise that the United Nations are very keen on sexist phrases such as VAWG, but then that organisation has nothing but contempt for men most of the time and seems to becoming more biased by the day. I really think we’re far better than that and shouldn’t stoop to their level.

    You make a few good points, but you’ve missed every single one of main barriers to male victims getting help:

    1. Lack of services/shelters for men
    2. Sexist attitudes in police forces meaning male vicitms are not believed (and end up arrested)
    3. Lack of awareness and effort encouraging male vicitms to come forward.

    One of the main reasons rape is “gendered” in the UK is because we still haven’t yet updated the definition of rape yet and are stuck in the past. This means that no female committing the crime can be found guilty of rape yet.

    As for domestic violence, women are becoming increasingly violent year after year and we’re starting to learn what’s really going on and challenging the odl assumptions.

    There are now more male domestic violence aged 18-25 than females ones. Furthermore there is almost no different between the number of male and female victims suffering from “severe abuse” the the last year.

    There has been some excellent coverage recently of the true state of affairs, showing the true extent of the problem, men actually ake up more than 40% of victims:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/sep/05/men-victims-domestic-violence
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1309312/Four-domestic-violence-victims-men.html

    Domestic violence is NOT a gender issue whatsoever, it is a societal problem and people need to stop pretending otherwise.

  13. “the major difference is that for the first time the volunteers from the sector and the police dealing with Domestic Violence incidents are housed together”

    It is not ‘volunteers’ who are based with the police, it is paid workers, employed within the voluntary sector.

  14. I wish the protesters this afternoon had also destroyed Lib Dem HQ. Traitors. Every single one of you. You are the party who should be hauled before the court to explain your lies in the election

  15. R Collins – as it stands, the law changed in this respect on 1 July 2006. Before that date citizenship could only be passed from a father to his child if the parents were married at the date of birth, or if they married at a later date and the marriage legitimated the birth.

    From 1 July 2006 section 9 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 amended the definition of “parent” within the British Nationality Act 1981. This means that a man can now be regarded as a child’s father for nationality purposes, irrespective of whether he is married to the child’s mother (provided that she is not married to someone else and there is sufficient proof of paternity).

    The policy intention behind section 9 of the 2002 Act was to remove the previous distinctions in nationality law between legitimate and illegitimate children. Owing to competing priorities in the citizenship field it was only possible to implement that provision on 1 July 2006. This means the earlier law continues to apply in relation to people born before 1 July 2006.

    In cases of children born illegitimately to British fathers before 1 July 2006 UKBA’s policy is to sympathetically use the discretion in section 3(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 to confer British citizenship by registration. This discretion would be used where an application is made before the child’s 18th birthday and there is (a) suitable evidence of the father-child relationship and (b) no objection to registration on the part of any person having parental responsibility for the child.

    There were two reasons why these changes were not applied retrospectively to those born before 1 July 2006. First, many of the provisions in our nationality law confer citizenship automatically at birth. There is a need for certainty about such matters – which would be lost if we took to altering people’s status retrospectively. Secondly, some people who were born illegitimately to British fathers before 1 July 2006 would by then have acquired foreign citizenships. Their entitlement to such citizenships might have been put at risk if they had been deemed all along to have held British citizenship. The advantage of requiring such people to apply for citizenship is that it enables them to make an informed choice.

    It is unclear from your comment whether your parents have ever married and legitimised your birth. If not, and an application for registration was not made before her 18th birthday, your only route to British citizenship would now be through naturalisation, based on a period of 5 years residence in the United Kingdom.

  16. Lynne, I am fully aware of the current (discriminatory) law. In fact, you are just spewing what Labour said previously, notably, Phil Woolas. In fact, these are Phil Woolas’ words. I know because this is the same verbiage I received from him when Labour was in power. I expected you to see right through this discrimination and find a reasonable solution that will allow children born illegitimately, a chance to acquire citizenship through their British fathers. You are on a rampage to find ways of giving others equality, despite current laws and opinions. It seems on this issue, you’re just throwing your hands in the air, giving up.

    I have been in a living hell because of this law. And no, my parents have never married, thus my birth is not legitimized. Otherwise, I probably would not be aggressive about fighting this blatant inequality.

    I want to take you to task over a few points you mentioned above and I appreciate an answer.

    “In cases of children born illegitimately to British fathers before 1 July 2006 UKBA’s policy is to sympathetically use the discretion in section 3(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 to confer British citizenship by registration. This discretion would be used where an application is made before the child’s 18th birthday and there is (a) suitable evidence of the father-child relationship and (b) no objection to registration on the part of any person having parental responsibility for the child.”

    How come children are still falling afoul of this registration process? William Watrin-Catrall was one of many children whose birth the Home Office refuses to register, even though he was born in the UK before 2006, and is still under the age of 18. Your system is set up to discriminate against illegitimate children without regard for your own citizenship laws, which allow registration for minors. Prior to 2006, so many parents were denied registration of their children’s births, shutting these kids out of any opportunity for British citizenship. Now that they are over the age of 18, their opportunity is completely gone. Sympathetic? Not so. Why?

    I should add Alison Seabeck MP (Plymouth) has fought tirelessly for Watrin-Catrall to have a UK passport – http://tinyurl.com/yfnw33s

    “First, many of the provisions in our nationality law confer citizenship automatically at birth. There is a need for certainty about such matters – which would be lost if we took to altering people’s status retrospectively.”

    Yet you changed the law in 2002 and 2009 to confer UK citizenship to *adult* children of British mothers, who were previously shut out together with children born illegitimately to British fathers. In fact, the reason for the 2009 change was because children born before 1961 to British mothers were being discriminated against, the recent law removed all cut-off dates.

    You just got caught in a serious lie, Lynne. The law *can* be changed to allow adults retrospective citizenship, because it *was* changed just last year for mothers. Would you mind addressing this point? By recently allowing adult children born to British mothers UK citizenship, you altered many people’s nationality status retrospectively. Why would adult illegitimate children be any different in this equation?

    I should point out that what you said above was also once said to children born to British mothers prior to 1983. The exact words Lynne. These children also fought tirelessly to change this discriminatory law too, all whilst being told the same exact thing you posted above. You found a way to change it for them. Why not us? (http://www.turberville.org/IND/campaigns/)

    “Secondly, some people who were born illegitimately to British fathers before 1 July 2006 would by then have acquired foreign citizenships. Their entitlement to such citizenships might have been put at risk if they had been deemed all along to have held British citizenship. The advantage of requiring such people to apply for citizenship is that it enables them to make an informed choice.”

    It was agreed by the government and confirmed by the ILPA that registration of birth removes all nationality risks, because registration confers citizenship voluntary. This was confirmed in the Borders Bill in 2009 and was used as the reason for allowing both adult children born to British mothers and children born illegitimately to have retrospective citizenship. If what you are saying above were true, then how come exceptions were made for adult children of mothers and not for adult children of unmarried fathers?

    Here’s the form from the UKBA site on registration – http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/eligibility/registration/britishmother/

    Since I cannot have citizenship because I am illegitimate, it’s only fair then to remove the law to allow adult children citizenship through their mothers. When will the law be removed Lynne? If what you’ve said above is true, then it’s dangerous for adult children born to British mothers to even have UK citizenship, and the law must be removed. Will you seek to do this next year?

    It used to be unfathomable to change laws to allow same sex marriage, yet you are most certainly finding a way to change those laws! You are finding a way to change past perceptions. Why not work something for us children born illegitimately? Whether it be through an ancestry visa, or some other means, anything to get our foot in the door.

    Think outside the box, Lynne. You’re better than that.

    In 2009, the law to give illegitimate children citizenship was almost on its way to being changed. It was Phil Woolas who erased all the work others put in place to make this happen. Don’t be Phil Woolas. As an Equalities Minister it is your job to fight inequality. This is clearly an area that needs to be addressed. Speak to Lord Avebury. He along with others have been fighting tirelessly for nationality equality. I’m not coming to you with a totally foreign concept.

    An idea was submitted to the Your Freedom site to remove this discrimination. We hope you can work out a solution. You did it for British mothers. You can most certainly do it for unmarried British fathers.

    I really appreciate an answer to my points above and I hope you realize how much the law can be altered/changed to allow equality for all. After all, it was done just last year.

    I will marry to get into the UK. I will seek an abusive husband to fast track to ILR. I will make A LOT of noise once I get inside the country. I will remind anybody who will listen that you belong to a party who fought in 2009 to remove this discriminatory law, and how you don’t care to fight for us anymore.

    I will make your job very miserable, Lynne. Just watch me do it.

  17. Lynne, I forgot to add.

    Last year, the law to remove discrimination and allow all illegitimate adult children citizenship from their fathers *was* about to be changed. The law was declared unfair and the issue of any nationality risks was resolved by introducing registration of birth, using the model put forth for adult children born to British mothers, who were granted nationality rights in 2002 and 2009 (Column number: 223).

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmpublic/borders/090618/am/90618s03.htm

    It was Tom Brake, a Liberal Democrat, who introduced this clause to finally end nationality discrimination against illegitimate children. One of your own, Lynne! The law was all set to be passed until Phil Woolas himself had it removed. Not because of nationality risks (as you can see in the body of the Hansard link), but because of the question of numbers of people coming forward to claim citizenship. So, I just proved your misleading information wrong, Lynne.

    I should also point out that what you quoted me above was exactly what was being told for decades to children born prior to 1983 to British mothers. Yet, politicians sought to remove that discrimination.

    I’m surprised you are so stubborn about this Lynne. Are there ulterior motives? Why are you quoting obvious outdated and very discriminatory verbiage?

    The law states two people of the same sex cannot marry. However, you are most certainly finding any means necessary to change *that* discriminatory law. Why not the same for us? What gives?

    You’re just quoting bigoted laws without realizing that your office is still working to remove discrimination against children. You are catering to one group whilst leaving us behind.

    Again, what gives Lynne? So many Liberal Democrats have fought to allow children born illegitimately the right to acquire citizenship through their fathers. Why won’t you fight for us?

  18. Lynne, I’m thankful you published my comments. However, I’m disappointed you didn’t respond to my points, more specifically, the point I made about the government confirming that registration removes all problems associated with citizenship being conferred on a child retrospectively.

    As an aside to the registration debate, you didn’t address the possibility of the government opening up other avenues for children born illegitimately to British fathers, whether it be through an ancestry visa, a special work visa, or some other means, to earn citizenship. In 1981, Lord Avebury suggested earning a university degree as a way to automatic citizenship for children born illegitimately.

    Your office should be working to allow this one last group a fair way into the UK so they too can have the same opportunities already afforded to all other children born to British parents, in some cases their own siblings. After all, you went out of your way to find to change laws to give all children born to British mothers their nationality rights.

    It’s only fair to do the same for a child born illegitimately. Telling us we have no other options is a cruel way to tell an illegitimate child they are not truly valued in Britain’s society.

    You’re better than that, Lynne. Last year, during the Borders Bill debate, Phill Woolas called us children a “step into the unknown”. Please prove him wrong.