Archive for May, 2012

May 23, 2012

“Let me not die before my time”

A powerful new report on the impact of domestic abuse, and violence against women in West Africa has just been published by the International Rescue Committee, called ‘Let me not die before my time’.  You can download it at  The report stresses how violence in the home increases in post conflict societies.  

To quote from the introduction: “Women speak of domestic violence as impacting every aspect of their lives over a period of time, keeping them afraid and isolated from their friends and family and dependent on men who abuse them. Women want programs that confront this multifaceted reality. They want to be healthy (both physically and emotionally), to be financially independent, to have supportive communities that speak out against violence, and to have options for securing their safety whether through the police, a traditional chief, or a local women’s group.”

It sounds like while local realities may be very different, the wishes and needs of women suffering violence and abuse are universal.  You could have written almost exactly the same for women living in this country.


May 13, 2012

It’s time a defendant’s right to freedom was superseded by the victim’s right to safety”

I spent a few days in the North West last week and was lucky to have dinner with Penny and John Clough, parents of Jane Clough who was murdered by her ex-partner Jonathan Vass in 2010.  The title of this post comes from her father’s words – spoken after the House of Lords debate on their proposed change to the bail laws.  Last week’s Queen’s Speech brought closure to one part of their campaign – to give the prosecution the right to appeal bail decisions to the High Court in Crown Court cases.  Some of you will have heard them speak and I am sure will share my respect at their courage and dignity in striving to make things better for other women who might find themselves in Jane’s position in future.  If there was ever any doubt why we do our work, dinners like this remove it.  This is a potentially important change to the law and so all IDVA’s should be aware of it.

Their achievement has been quite extraordinary – to campaign for a change in the bail laws and see it get onto the statute books within 2 years of the death of their daughter reflects both the need for the change, and their extraordinary courage and determination in not taking no for an answer.  They are an inspiring couple.

After Jane’s death, they found her diary which predicted what would happen if Vass was released on bail.  She explains very eloquently her thoughts and you can watch them reading from Jane’s diary at

You can follow their campaign at

I have included below an excerpt from the ObiterJ blog ( ) which gives the technical details of the changes.  They are one of the few good things in the Legal Aid Act (LASPO).

Chapter 2 – Bail – comprises section 90 which will bring into force Schedule 11.  This brings about various amendments to legislation dealing with bail.  The result is that the Bail Act 1976 becomes even more convoluted than it already is.  Surely, it is time for a new Act addressing bail.  A fresh start so-to-speak ! 

It was the Bail (Amendment) Act 1993 which introduced prosecution appeals (to the Crown Court) against grants of bail (by Magistrates’ Courts) to defendants.  The 1993 Act will be amended so that where a judge of the Crown Court grants bail to a person who is charged with, or convicted of, an offence punishable by imprisonment, the prosecution may appeal to the High Court against the granting of bail.  However,  an appeal may not be made where a judge of the Crown Court has granted bail on an appeal.

As originally enacted, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 section 25 prevented courts granting bail at all for defendants charged with or convicted of homicide or rape after previous conviction for such offences.  However, the original enactment was not compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights and the section was amended so as to permit courts to grant bail where the court “is satisfied” that there are exceptional circumstances.  A further amendment – in LASPO Schedule 11 – will replace the words “is satisfied” with “is of the opinion.”  The new wording is preferable but will perhaps make little practical difference.

May 2, 2012

Feedback on MARACs and GPs

I got some really interesting ideas following my last post through from Sheila Brookes, Domestic Abuse Strategy Team Leader for Cheshire West and Chester which I have reproduced below.  Do note the consultation from the Institute of Health Equity on the role of the NHS Workforce in addressing the social determinants of health.  I would just add that we do not really expect to see many referrals from GPs to MARACs – our aspiration at this stage is rather to ensure that proportionate information is shared in both directions so that all have the clearest picture of risk and can respond safely and appropriately.  I am still very glad to hear from anyone else with good practice examples that we can put into the discussion, ahead of publishing our toolkit which will have a few options in it.

We have  a slot on an annual  Child Health Promotion Course through the Safeguarding Consultant and Safeguarding GP Lead on the LSCB which enables newly qualified doctors on rotation as GPs & hospital  staff to hear about what issues patients might present in relation to domestic abuse, what they can do, what the MARAC process is, what further training is available locally through our core DA training courses (including practice using the CAADA DASH RIC,  learning about agency roles in MARAC  and where they can refer onto). We have also run  workshops for the local Clinical Commissioners Group at  GP/Practice Nurse Half Day Rolling Programme  Education events (elective workshop). A local Safeguarding Nurse  (MARAC rep) completed the MARAC Champion training and cascades to health visitors  staff and offers advice to GPs


Our core training programme has been used as an example of good practice by the Institute of Health Equity (IHE) in their recent paper which is out for consultation (


However locally responses from GPs are still dependent on individual responses – currently their information is presented through the Lead Safeguarding Nurse but they make very few direct referrals