Archive for July, 2011

July 29, 2011

Moving from planet to planet

On our new CPD course which looks at safeguarding children living with DV, we talk about the ‘3 planets’ theory developed by Professor Marianne Hester.  This theory highlights how differently a single family is regarded on the domestic violence planet (victim is central, perpetrator is held responsible for their actions, children are not very visible), the child protection planet (victim often held responsible, perpetrator is often invisible and children are central) and the child contact planet (victim and perpetrator are treated equally, children are central).  We spend most of our lives on the domestic abuse ‘planet’ and can often be heard to say that those who ‘live’ on the other planets, just ‘don’t understand’.

One of the things that has been revealing on this training, has been how valuable it is to start to understand how the planets interpret the same situations, and why they see things differently.  We have just been assessing the work of the last course and one comment really struck us.  The practitioner concerned highlighted the following:

The course ‘gave me a chance to focus on quality of my referrals to children’s social care concentrating on the effects of the abuse on the children. This was a steep learning curve as previously I had been so centred on the ‘domestic abuse planet’ (Hester, 2004) my referrals prior to this process tended to forget that the idea was to focus on safeguarding the children, but instead was more generalised about the whole situation.

Completing the work around referrals has provided me with the confidence to challenge children’s social care about rejected referrals but also has given me the knowledge to look back at my referrals and amend and re-refer, resulting in some cases being opened by children’s social care, purely due to me providing more accurate and child focused information.

For so long we have read the serious case reviews that highlight the ‘professional optimism’ of practitioners working with the adult, and our research Safety in Numbers again showed that over 25% of children living with domestic abuse experienced direct threats of harm – 11% with direct threats to kill.  Feedback like that above gives us hope that this might show a way to narrow this gap.

July 26, 2011

Congratulations to new Leading Lights Services

Three more services have successfully achieved Leading Lights status. They are Nia and Evolve (part of Solace Women’s Aid) in London and Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid ‘B’ Division. Achieving this accreditation requires real commitment and hard work but we hope results in a consistent and high quality response to victims of domestic abuse. The coaching and support that precedes the formal accreditation gives service managers a chance to step back from the day to day and reflect with a small group of other managers how best to develop and reinforce their organizations. We are proud that there are now 12 Leading Lights services with over 20 more at various stages of the process.

Our next focus is to work with commissioners to ensure that they understand the importance of commissioning to a clear set of standards.

July 21, 2011

Survey for victims of stalking

The charity Protection Against Stalking are running a survey to try and gather much needed information about the experience of victims of stalking.  If you have experienced stalking, or work with people who do, please consider completing the survey which will be used to make recommendations about improving the Criminal Justice response to this problem.

It can be accessed on:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WK2TGVJ

or on the Protection Against Stalking website

http://www.protectionagainststalking.org <http://www.protectionagainststalking.org

read more »

July 20, 2011

Good news from Rights of Women on Legal Aid

I received this email from Rights of Women who have done a great job of advocating for change in the legal aid proposals in relation to cases brought under the Domestic Violence rule.

Dear all,

I write with excellent news that the Government has agreed to bring cases brought under the domestic violence rule back into the scope of legal aid within the proposals set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. The statement from the Legal Aid Minister, Jonathan Djanogly MP, was made yesterday 19 July during the sixth sitting of the Public Bill Committee in response to a question raised by the Conservative Party MP, Ben Gummer:

read more »

July 12, 2011

Will the Sex Offenders’ Register “Review Mechanism” breach human rights law?

This is interesting in the light of the proposed ‘right to know’ for victims of domestic abuse.

Will the Sex Offenders’ Register “Review Mechanism” breach human rights law? « UK Human Rights Blog.

July 6, 2011

Now this is getting really confusing…

More on the legal aid saga – see below for a Guardian article from last week (sorry – I missed it first time around) about a new fund of £20m to protect law centres from closure in the wake of the legal aid cutbacks.  Surely it would be better to think through the impact of the bill carefully – including the knock on effect on other departments’ budgets – and then work out how to respond.  I don’t see how £20m bridges the gap?

Ken Clarke announces £20m fund after criticism of legal aid cuts

Justice secretary says Lady Hale warned against cuts because she ‘misunderstood’ proposals on legal aid and sentencing

protesters ken clarke

Sound Off For Justice protests against Ken Clarke in Westminster on 29 June. Photograph: http://www.soundoffforjustice.org

A £20m fund is to be created to help law centres and advice services threatened by the government’s plan to cut legal aid, the justice secretary has announced.

This U-turn on funding came as Ken Clarke fought to defend proposals in his legal aid and sentencing bill at the second reading, including proposals to cut £350m out of the justice ministry’s annual £2.1bn legal aid budget.

Asked about criticism of his policy this week from Lady Hale, the supreme court justice, Clarke accused her of having “misunderstood the effect of our proposals”, and suggested he would meet her.

In a speech to the Law Society on Monday night, Lady Hale warned that cuts to legal aid would have a “disproportionate effect upon the poorest and most vulnerable in society”.

In the Commons, Clarke insisted he had a “high regard” for the only woman judge on the supreme court, but added: “I’m surprised by her response. I think … that the honourable lady has misunderstood the effect of the proposals or misunderstood why we are doing it.”

On Tuesday, the Law Centres Federation claimed that 18 out of 52 centres in England and Wales were likely to close as a result of cuts to legal aid.

Clarke’s promise of £20m this year to help “not-for-profit” neighbourhood advice and law centres appears to be a response to such fears. Many centres derived their income from other sources, Clarke insisted.

On clause 12 – the government’s plan to make entitlement to legal advice for those detained in police stations subject to a means test – Clarke suggested it would be reviewed during the passage of the bill.

The justice secretary also said he may consider banning referral fees paid by lawyers in car accident and personal injury cases.

Responding for Labour, the shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, claimed the government’s proposals to cut legal aid would result in “the whole country becoming an advice desert”.

Criticising the proposals before the £20m fund was announced, Citizens Advice said: “The proposals will result in significant falls in the estimated income of Citizens Advice bureaux in England and Wales, and will be potentially destabilising to many bureaux.

“The scope changes, applied to existing arrangements, would reduce legal aid income from £25.7m to £5.4m, with the consequent loss of specialist services. However, our modelling also suggests that not-for-profit contracts would cease to be financially viable at this remaining level of funding.”

In the wake of the proposals, Citizans’ Advice chief executive, Gillan Guy, said: “We welcome the government’s recognition of the vital role advice agencies play in resolving problems that put people’s homes, jobs and livelihoods at risk.

But Citizens’ Advice remains very concerned about the legal aid bill. What’s left of civil legal aid will be inaccessible for too many people and unworkable for too many advice providers.”

Welcoming the decision to consider banning referral fees, John Spencer, a solicitor who has campaigned against them, said: “I am thrilled that many legislators have finally woken up to the fact that referral fees are the rotten core of dysfunction in the personal injury market in this country.

“Referral fees introduce perverse commercial incentives into the market and clearly open the door to potential profiteering, not only from introducers of work such as insurers and claims management companies, but also for ancillary services related to each claim such as medical and mobility services.”

• This article has been amended to update comments from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau

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July 4, 2011

Law and Lawyers: For how long can the Police hold me?

The ObiterJ blog has a clear and comprehensible summary of the recent decision by the High Court apparently to reverse 25 years of accepted practice in relation to calculating the amount of expired bail time.  The Guardian reports that an application has been made to the Supreme Court to stay this judgment by means of a private hearing today – 4th July.  It seems extraordinary that we could have worked with one interpretation for so long – and now a decision made by a District Judge, and upheld by the High Court reverses all of that.  It will obviously need to be resolved quickly.

Law and Lawyers: For how long can the Police hold me?.