Police in Devon and Cornwall now have new powers to help victims of domestic violence and abuse.
Where a perpetrator has been violent, or threatened violence, towards a victim or their children and there are unlikely to be any "substantive" criminal charges the police may authorise a Domestic Violence Protection Notice while the perpetrator is in custody.
The notice protects the victim from violence or a threat of violence by: 1. Prohibiting the perpetrator from evicting or excluding the victim and their children from their premises 2. Prohibits the perpetrator from entering the premises 3. Requires the perpetrator to leave the premises or 4. Prohibits the perpetrator from going within such a distance of the premises as specified in the notice.
Within 24 hours of the notice being issued the police then apply to the court for a Domestic Violence Protection Order which carries the same prohibitions and can last between 14 to 28 days.
Detective Chief Inspector John Trott from the Devon and Cornwall public protection unit said: “This is another fantastic tool in addition to the Clare’s Law legislation from March 2014 and a new strategy for policing perpetrators of domestic violence”
DCI Trott stated; “We have incidents of domestic violence that are reported to us but on occasions there is insufficient evidence to bring a charge. In the past, the suspect has then been released from custody, often without any restrictions on their movement. Under the new scheme if there is concern that a partner has been the subject of violence or the threat of violence and that risk remains a 48 hour Domestic Violence Protection Notice can be authorised by a Superintendent before a suspect leaves custody.
“This can result in banning the perpetrator from returning to the victim’s address (which might also be their home), or the area around it, and from molesting the victim. In the past it was the victim and their children that felt they had to move to keep safe. Thankfully, that is not the case now. We then refer the notice to the Magistrates Court who decide if the notice should be turned into an order which can last between 14 and 28 days.”
DCI Trott went onto say, “This scheme will now give vulnerable victims who are in a state of crisis, a level of breathing space to consider their options, receive further help from support agencies whilst at the same time providing them with a degree of protection that they would not have had before.”
Perpetrators will be signposted to appropriate support agencies in an effort to prevent further re-offending.