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Family Law

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11 FEB 2009

New support for victims of domestic violence

A new guide aimed at helping victims of domestic violence was launched this week at a helpline for sufferers of domestic abuse by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and the new Victims' Champion Sara Payne, alongside new funding for support services.

The purse-sized guide shows how friends and family-members can recognise if someone is suffering from domestic violence and sets out what practical support is available.

In order that victims don't feel trapped by an abuser's control over family finances, the Home Office has been working closely with the British Bankers' Association to agree additional banking support for victims. This means, for example, that victims can open new independent accounts with a letter from a refuge manager confirming their circumstances, as opposed to the usual multiple proofs of identification which may be in the possession of, or access- controlled by the abuser. Victims can also open a new bank account giving just a PO box as their new address - thus protecting them and their independence.

All this information and the guide will be available on a new Home Office webpage, at branches of Jobcentre Plus, GP surgeries and local crime fighting agencies.

A further £3.5m has been allocated to tackle interpersonal violence including continuing to expand numbers of Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) that bring relevant organisations together to identify high risk victims as early as possible.

It is estimated that domestic abuse affects an estimated 4.8 million women and 3.2 million men. These measures are announced in advance of a consultation on a major cross-Government strategy to tackle Violence Against Women focussing on: actions to prevent violence; challenging attitudes; and reducing the fear of serious violence that some women may feel.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith emphasised how important it is to provide banking services to victims of domestic abuse.

"I know from talking to domestic violence professionals that money worries may exacerbate domestic tensions. I also know that one of the reasons why many women remain in abusive situations is concerns about financial independence - I do not want any woman to feel trapped.

"I hope that new information about how the banks can support victims, even if it's just by offering to discuss personal and sensitive financial matters privately or explaining that they will accept non-traditional forms of ID when you need to open a new account, will enable more women to feel they can take their first step towards breaking away from their abusers."

More information can be found on the new dedicated section of the, Home Office website.

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