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30 APR 2009

Developments in Protecting Victims of Domestic Abuse

Diana Barran, Chief Executive, Coordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse

Each week sees hundreds of victims of domestic abuse and their children come before the family courts seeking protection from their partners or ex-partners. Clearly great progress has been made in addressing some of the risks they face through the implementation of the Family Law Act 1996, the Children Acts of 1989 and 2004 and the Adoption and Children Act 2002. However, the number of domestic homicides remains broadly unchanged over the past 10 years and the number of children who live with domestic abuse remains at an unacceptable level.

In the past four years some significant changes have begun which the organisation Coordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA) believes, if implemented fully and effectively, will result in a transformation in the way that domestic abuse is addressed in this country. These changes build on the lessons of recent homicide and serious case reviews which share three common themes. The first of these is that typically there has been insufficient understanding of risk in relation to domestic abuse. The second is that there has been insufficient information sharing between agencies and, finally, that there has been a lack of specialist support for victims of domestic abuse. In the week that this article was written Lord Laming's report was published on the changes necessary to safeguard children following the tragic death of Baby P and also published was the IPCC investigation into the death of Katie Summers in Bolton who was killed by her ex-partner, despite calling the police to her home four times in four days, with her two young children in the house at the time. It seems that these lessons are still not fully learnt. There are three key developments in this area which are examined in more detail below.

To read the rest of this article, see May [2009] Family Law journal.

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