Archive for April 8th, 2008

More than 30 children, some as young as five, have been identified as having anger management issues and problems with domestic violence at home thanks to a groundbreaking Norfolk project to tackle the causes of crime and yobbish behaviour.

Broadland District Council paid £100,000 for research by the University of East Anglia to look into what was causing an increase in vandalism, petty theft and crime in the area.

That research, which discovered many of the youngsters who start offending came from unhappy family backgrounds, led to the creation of the pioneering Stairway scheme, which included a range of projects to help tackle yob behaviour.

In one project, youngsters from seven primary schools across the district were referred for one-to-one sessions with workers from Norfolk charity the Benjamin Foundation’s Time 4 You service because they were either crying all the time, going through bereavement or the loss of a parent through family separation, or had issues around friendship and anger management.

Trained practitioners from Leeway Women’s Aid went into secondary schools in Sprowston, Taverham and Aylsham High Schools to talk to youngsters about domestic violence, while workers from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children visited primary schools in Acle, Hellesdon, Salhouse, Brundall and South Walsham to focus on domestic violence issues.

Sessions have also been held at Broadland Training Services to help families deal effectively with disputes and planners have also looked at how the design of neighbourhoods could be improved.

Simon Woodbridge, leader of Conservative-controlled South Norfolk Council, said: “I am really pleased with the way it has gone. The officers have really got to grips with the research we conducted and come up with a way to make a practical difference.

“Before we did this I had visions of children with problems as little Johnny throwing stuff about and causing a nuisance. While that does happen, the reality is also that there are children sat in the corner not talking to anyone and the child who is constantly crying.

“This project has been brilliant because people have gone in and got to the root of the problems. That has been beneficial for them, the staff and the other children.”

Sharon Matthews, from the Benjamin Foundation, said the project had enthused teachers and was attracting interest from other parts of the county.

She said: “It’s heartbreaking what some of the kids are going through, but heart-warming to think we can do something about it.

“We are seeing some good results very quickly and getting good feedback from teachers. Often a six-year-old doesn’t need counselling, it’s about saying ‘when you get angry do this instead’ – they just need that practical advice.”

The scheme has been so successful later this month Broadland council leader Simon Woodbridge will be addressing a conference in Verona about it and the model could be use in other Norfolk schools and across the whole country.

http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/content/news/story.aspx?brand=ENOnline&category=News&tBrand=ENOnline&tCategory=news&itemid=NOED04%20Apr%202008%2011%3A47%3A55%3A620

Written by Dawn Rose, Sally Wilden, Peppy Barlow
With Pauline Dent as Helen, Jo Somervell as Penelope and Dawn Rose as Klytemnestra
Directed by Sally Wilden from the original production directed by Cathy Gill for The Pulse Festival 2007
Woven Theatre Company In association with The Courtyard Theatre Hoxton

Three women stereotyped by history – Helen the whore, Penelope the faithful wife, Klytemnestra the harridan – meet on an island where they come to escape their pasts. But will they change their fates?

An extraordinary exploration of myth and gender, still hot to touch in a modern world

Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world and the cause of the Trojan War, is a bag lady living on an island where she has come to escape the ghosts of her past. A place where no one looks at her, no one judges her, no one tells her what to do. Then Penelope arrives looking for her husband who has still not returned from the war. She begins tidying the place up, civilising it, making it a place fit for a hero to come home to, a sort of colonisation by house keeping. They are close to coming to blows when Klytemestra bursts onto the scene, still in thrall to the moment when she killed her husband. The two women watch in awe as she re-enacts the drowning.

Helen and Klytemnestra are sisters, and there is a long history of sibling rivalry. Penelope’s husband was Helen’s suitor before he married her. Penelope is enraged with and fascinated by Helen and finds something awe inspiring and arousing in Klytemenstra’s murderous passion. Alliances shift and change as they explore their deepest fears, their deepest longings.

Despite the historical references this is a very contemporary play which challenges perceptions of identity and power. It is about women and men and what it is to take on the roles we are given and change them.

WOVEN was set up in 2003 and is dedicated to developing new writing with a particular interest in women writers. Previous productions include Grasping at Shadows, Missing and Broken. WOVEN has been in receipt of generous Arts Council funding and support from the Peggy Ramsay Foundation.

Tuesday 29th April to Sunday 25th May 7.30pm – no Monday performances
Tickets: £16 and £12 conc. from http://www.seetickets.com / 0870 163 0717

http://www.thecourtyard.org.uk & http://www.woventheatre.co.uk

In celebration of the recent resurgence of a radical, feminist movement in Britain, Housmans are hosting events featuring some of the leading feminist lights.

Feminist Publishing – past, present, and future
Wednesday 23rd April, 7pm

From self-published pamphlets, mags, and zines, via established book publishers like Virago, to publishing on the internet, a panel including Red Chidgey, Gail Chester and Catherine Riley will lead a discussion about where feminist publications have been and where they’re going. Come and tell us about your favourite publications, to expand Housmans’ own gender section.

What’s happening with feminism today?
Wednesday 30th April, 7pm

In the last few months there has been the biggest growth in feminist activism in two decades. To discuss this resurgence, we are bringing together a panel of activists including Jess McCabe from the F-Word, Finn Mackay of Reclaim The Night, Laurie Penny of Red Pepper, women from Wominspace (the new squatted women’s social centre), Jennifer Drew, and others.

Event information:
Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, King’s Cross, London N1 9DX
Tel: 020 7837 4473
Email: shop@housmans.com
Food and drinks will be available.
All events are free.
Nearest tube: King’s Cross

a debut play by Penelope Skinner
directed by Daniel Goldman, performed by Becci Gemmell

I don’t mean to sound horrible but the sex was – well – it was a bit like a kebab? Doner, not shish. Last night after five pints it was hot, it was tasty, it was just what I needed. But this morning in the cold light of day, I am coated in the greasy film of regret.

When 27 year old F finds a love story she wrote at the age of 12, she goes on a trip down memory lane, stopping off at the most significant mornings-after of her life. This exciting debut play by Penelope Skinner chronicles the sexual journey that one girl embarks on from adolescence to womanhood.

Award winning Tangram Theatre Company returns to the Old Red Lion after their critically acclaimed production of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis in 2006 with a very different and exciting female playwright.

Penelope Skinner is making her full length professional debut with Fucked. Penelope’s previous work has been performed at the Young Vic and the George Tavern and her short play 1 in 5 (“kind of Two Ronnies style, but funnier”, Andrew Haydon) was one of the Upstart winners at Hampstead Theatre Daring Pairings Festival in September 2007. Becci Gemmell recently performed in Old Vic New Voices award-winning production of Mad Funny Just at Theatre 503 (Time Out Critics’ Choice) where she received excellent personal reviews (“sublime to behold” Time Out, “Becci Gemmell reminds you uncannily of Julie Walters”, Evening Standard).

Daniel Goldman has directed four Tangram show’s including Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis (ORL, Arcola), Crunch! a show about apples (Pleasance Edinburgh, Arts Theatre – Total Theatre Award nominee), Richard III (Southwark Playhouse – Better Bankside Shakespeare Award Winner) and Sepia Dreams as part of CASA Latin American Theatre Festival in St Andrew’s Crypt, Holborn. Daniel was a runner up in last years JMK Award.

Venue: Old Red Lion Theatre
Address: 418 St John Street, EC1V 4NJ
Dates: Wed 16th April – Sat 3rd May 2006
Times: 9.30pm Tues – Sat, 8pm Sunday
Price: £10, £8 (concs), £6 (NUS only Tue – Thurs)
Box Office: 020 7837 7816, http://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk
Underground: Angel (Northern Line)
Bus: 4 19 30 38 43 56 73 153 214 341

Discussing ideas and planning action for a woman’s right to choose
12 April, 12-5pm, Clement House Building, London School of Economics, Holborn (Holborn tube)

12.00pm Registration

12.30pm Opening speech by Sofie Buckland (NUS National Executive)

1-2.15pm
a) Imperialism and Motherhood Speaker: Anna Davin (founding editor of History Workshop Journal) Facilitator: Gwyneth Lonergan
b) From Abortion Rights to Reproductive Freedoms A panel discussion with Charlotte Gage (Abortion Rights), Cathy Nugent (Workers’ Liberty), Rosie Woods (NHS worker) Facilitator: Anna Longman

2.20-3.35pm
a) Getting your message across Jill Mountford (former organiser of the Welfare State Network) and James House (TV documentaries producer) Workshop facilitator: Rachael Ferguson
b) How to campaign Workshop Facilitator: Anne-Marie O’Reilly (trade union organiser)

3.45-5pm Planning for a National Day of Action Facilitators: Laura Schwartz and Rebecca Galbraith

* Food: cheap vegetarian food will be served from 12 noon
* Free creche: Please register with rebecca.galbraith@yahoo.co.uk for a free creche place
* Social with X-talk: 7pm @ The Ivy House, Southampton Row, Holborn
* The teach-in is free to attend but a suggested donation of £1.50 unwaged and £3+ waged is encouraged.

http://www.feministfightback.org.uk

“If people join us now, they will be in at the beginning of something potentially revolutionary,” says Maggie Baxter, talking about the upcoming launch of the new UK Women’s Fund. Maggie Baxter is one of those rare people who combine inspiration with pragmatism; she has spent more than 30 years in the voluntary sector, from grants director of Comic Relief to director of Womankind Worldwide; yet she has never lost the idealism that has driven her from the start of her career. “When you see the difference that actually quite small amounts of money can make, in well run and well led projects, then you do feel optimistic about how funds like this can change lives.”

There are more than 200 women’s funds in the world, stretching from the Ukraine to Ghana, from India to the USA, where there are dozens – while we are still waiting for a national women’s fund in the UK. Elsewhere, these funds – which include well known organisations such as the Global Fund for Women and MamaCash, through to community funds such as the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee – are successful in channelling money towards women’s organisations.

In doing so they fill a real need, because grant-making is often blind to the fundamental inequalities between men and women, which means that women’s organisations lose out. “I was first really aware of this when I went to Africa for Comic Relief in the 1990s,” says Baxter, “I saw how women do all the work and yet are so unrecognised. In a less obvious way, the same is still true of the UK – the work that the women’s sector does, whether it’s in protecting women from violence or campaigning for political equality – still tends to get sidelined, which means that women’s organisations remain horribly underfunded, despite superficial equality elsewhere in society.”

Alice Hooper at the branding agency Rainey Kelly, who has been working on the launch of the UK Women’s Fund, was struck by the response of the women in the focus groups they talked to: “At first women said that they didn’t see the point of a special women’s fund, but when we presented them with the real needs on the grounds for many women, particularly around sexual violence – how rape crisis lines are being cut, how women who flee trafficking can’t find support – we saw a change in the room. Women began to join up the dots. They saw the connections between these issues and issues such as a lack of political representation.”

The fund will aim to draw in new money from people who may not have been attracted to philanthropy in the past, as well as influence existing funders to invest in women. In other countries where women’s funds have taken off, Baxter has noted that they foster a spirit of sisterhood and solidarity, which she is keen to see take off in the UK too. “There is a strong sense of self-interest in our society at the moment, a sense that ‘if I’m all right I can ignore those who aren’t’. But I think when you encourage people to realise that they can be part of a movement to grow a better society, they are drawn to that.” Hooper agrees: “There is the potential for a huge leap here. Just recently it wasn’t at all cool to be green, and that has turned around. I think the same could happen with women’s issues – that it could become cool for women to get involved in empowering other women.”

http://www.philanthropyuk.org/Newsletter/Mar2008Issue32/UKWomensFundtolaunch

Recently the National press announced that the independent police complaint commission’s investigation on police’s shortfalls in protecting Banaz Mahmud from murder has confirmed “delays, insensitivity, lack of understanding and poor supervision by police” in responding to Banaz’s plea for protection prior to her murder in 2006. Eight police officers will face disciplinary actions for failing to provide the protection she badly needed and which was denied her in her hour of need. Banaz’s murder was ordered by her father and uncle because she was in love with a man they did not approve of; they believed she had shamed the family.

On four separate occasions Banaz warned police that her life was in severe danger; she named five people she thought would kill her. Banaz was a young woman who grew up in the UK, was aware of the system and did not have any language problems; she was very brave in reporting her concerns to police, who she thought would save her life. Yet the police failed over and over again to respond to someone who evidently was very concerned about her safety.

Consequently, their negligence left Banaz without protection and very vulnerable and her premature death orchestrated by the family that was to protect her. She disappeared in January 2006, her body was found in Birmingham in a suitcase buried in a garden in April 2006, she had been raped and tortured before been strangled.

Banaz was not only a victim of a tribal honour culture, which has been slavishly condone and supported by members of her family, she was also a victim of insensitivity, irresponsibility, lack of understanding and the stereotyping by the police. In an instance when Banaz was able to prove conclusively that her father had planned to kill her – in December 2005 – whilst lying in hospital trying to make her voice heard by the police, she was considered “a drunken young woman making false claims to get the attention of her boyfriend” rather than “someone who was at high risk of “honour killing”

Banaz’s murder came four years after Heshu Abdullah’s murder on 2002. Heshu’s case has brought about a lot of awareness on “honour killings” amongst police forces following which the police promised to initiate training programme for its officer and to be more sensitive to future honour motivated crimes against women, yet four years after that Banaz’s murder was the biggest scandal on police shortfalls in handling the case.

Honour based violence including forced marriages and “honour killings” is now a major social problem and it is no longer acceptable or tolerable for such level of incompetence to continue within the police force in responding to potential victims.

It should however not be forgotten that the file on the Banaz’s murder is still not closed. Two of the known perpetrators in the murder are still living in Iraqi Kurdistan, defiant of the role in taking this young lady’s life. We believe that the CPS and the Metropolitan police have a responsibility to ensure that these people are brought back to this Country to face the punishment they deserve.

KRWO and MECWR are committed to provide all the necessary support to potential victims of honour based violence and to work towards its, total eradication. We hope that proposed action against the Officers in the Banaz case will at last help to bring about the culture change in the police force and to ensure that women will be able to live their lives without being abused by their family.

Press release 3rd April 2008
Kurdistan Refugee Women Organisation and Middle East Centre for Women’s Rights

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See also:

* The Independent Police Complaints Commission has concluded its investigation into how the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and West Midlands Police handled complaints from Banaz Mahmod prior to her murder. http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=364296&NewsAreaID=2

* Statement by Aneeta Prem, MPA lead member, honour killings and force marriages responding to the IPCC report into the circumstances surrounding the so-called honour killing of Banaz Mahmod, Aneeta Prem, Metropolitan Police Authority lead member, honour killings and forced marriages. http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=364368&NewsAreaID=2

The Public Law Outline introduces simpler and more streamlined court procedures and promotes the earlier identification of key issues in the process including;
* Setting court timetables focused on the needs to the child;
* Ensuring local authorities are better and more fully prepared before making applications to the courts;
* Cutting the current six stages of the court process to four;

The Public Law Outline, an initiative led by the Judiciary of England and Wales, also aims to promote better co-operation between all parties involved in care and supervision cases.

Speaking at the launch of the Public Law Outline, family justice minister Bridget Prentice said;

“Children and families involved in care proceedings are among the most vulnerable in society. We should try and prevent children from having to be removed by the courts from their parents’ care. It should be a last resort after all other options have been explored, such as care from grandparents or other family members. But where a child is suffering abuse or neglect, court intervention may be the right option. Improving the care proceedings process in the courts and reducing delays will go a considerable way to better meet the needs of these children.”

Children’s minister Kevin Brennan said:

“If we are to achieve our vision of making this the best country in the world to grow up, we need to focus our attention on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in our society. Children in care have been marginalised for too long and allowed to fail. Our Children and Young Person’s Bill will ensure that family and friends care is always the first option for these children. But when children do have to come into care we want to make sure they are well looked after, which is why we have just issued new guidance to local authorities.”

The Public Law Outline procedures are supported by revised statutory guidance for local authorities to assist them in preparing care applications to the court produced by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Welsh Assembly Government. That guidance places a strong emphasis on close communications with families and on exploring options for children to be supported and cared for by their wider families while making clear that timely action should always be taken through the courts to safeguard children when necessary.

The development of these reforms reflect the joined-up approach that has been taken covering the full process of bringing before the family courts those children who are believed by local authorities to have suffered, or to be likely to suffer, abuse and neglect.

The government is implementing key reforms to the child care proceedings system in England and Wales, following a review of the system completed in 2006. The reforms will improve the system and provide better outcomes for children while ensuring that resources are used in a timely and effective way.

Notes
1. The Public Law Outline will replace the existing Protocol for Judicial Case Management in Public Law Children Act Cases from 1 April 2008. It is available from http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/careproceedings.htm
2. The Department for Children, Schools and Families has published revised statutory guidance (Volume 1 ‘Court Orders’ of the Children Act 1989 Guidance) to help local authorities prepare and commence care proceedings. The Welsh Assembly is publishing its own version of the guidance for Welsh local authorities. The guidance will come into force in both England and Wales in April 2008.

http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=364144&NewsAreaID=2

Displaying reporting links to agencies including the police, NSPCC and the Samaritans on social networking websites is one of a range of recommendations for industry and users in new guidance launched today by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, alongside new proposals to make it harder for child sex offenders to meet children online.

Under new plans to monitor sex offenders online, which will be developed and explored in partnership with industry and CEOP on behalf of law enforcement agencies, the email addresses of registered child sex offenders will be passed by police to social networking websites, enabling these websites to stop offenders using their sites. Sex offenders would face up to five years in prison if they fail to give police their email addresses or provide a false email address.

The first UK Social Networking Guidance provides advice for industry, parents and children about how to stay safe online. This has been developed by a Taskforce of representatives from industry, charity and law enforcement agencies including Vodafone, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The Home Secretary also launched a new Kitemark to set a standard for filtering software for home computers and strengthen protection of children online. This ensures that parents have confidence that the filtering product they use meets an independent standard.

The Social Networking Guidance contains a number of recommendations for service providers and safety advice for users for the first time including:
* The display of reporting and/or advice links to a range of agencies such as CEOP, NSPCC, Samaritans, and others to allow users to report issues of abuse or seek help;
* Arrangements for industry and law enforcement to share reports of potentially illegal activity and suspicious behaviour;
* To make it more difficult for people registered over the age of 18 to search for users under the age of 18; and
* To encourage children not to provide excessive information about themselves

This good practice document is unique in bringing together the major players in industry, based in different countries, along with law enforcement and children’s charities, to agree a set of principles aimed at protecting children that they will all work towards.

The Kitemark is designed to raise the standard of internet filtering, monitoring and blocking applications for the UK market and will be of particular benefit to parents when selecting suitable products and services.

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Notes:
1. The Home Secretary’s Taskforce on Child Protection on the Internet was formed in 2001, bringing together Government, online technology providers, law enforcement and child protection specialists to work together to tackle issues relating to the protection of children on the internet.
2. The full Social Networking Guidance and the contributors can be found at http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/operational-policing/crime-disorder/child-protection-taskforce
3. Under the plans to introduce the disclosure of the details of child sex offenders subject to notification requirements to social networking sites, we would require them to notify police of their email addresses. This will be done through secondary legislation, subject to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill receiving Royal Assent later this year.
4. Further details on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill can be found at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/criminal-justice-bill.htm

Extract from http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=364500&NewsAreaID=2

An East Barnet church group will hold the first of a series of social justice lectures on the dangers of sex trafficking on April 22.

The East Barnet Social Justice lecture, Sex Trafficking: 21st Century Slavery?, will take place at 8pm at St Mary’s Church, in Church Hill Road, organised by the East Barnet Anglican-Methodist Partnership.

It is the first of a series of annual lectures designed to provoke discussion about controversial issues affecting the community.

Speaker Dr Timothy Brain has been chief constable of Gloucestershire since 2001 and is the spokesperson for the Association of Chief Police Officers on prostitution and related vice matters. He has also taken a leading part in framing the Government’s policy dealing with child prostitution.

Sex Trafficking has recently been highlighted as a local issue by an investigation commissioned by Enfield Council, which exposed criminals smuggling women and children into the borough and forcing them into prostitution.

Speaking on behalf of the Anglican-Methodist Partnership, Reverend Richard Watson said: “We are holding these annual lectures to provoke not only the congregation but other people in the country to pick up pertinent issues and do something about them.

“We are very pleased that Dr Brain is able to be with us to help highlight this major issue. Human trafficking is an unseen evil, and on our doorsteps almost every day.

“We are aware of many anecdotal stories that traffickers use the M25 to drop people off. It is a fairly major transport route.

“It seems perverse to celebrate the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery last year and then pretend it doesn’t exist this year. We need to bring home to people the reality of slavery today.”

Helen Bamber will also be at the event with information on “The Journey” art installation, created by a group of renowned artists under the leadership of sex emporium owner Sam Roddick and actor Emma Thompson.

The Helen Bamber Foundation is a UK-based human rights organisation that provides medical consultation, therapeutic care, human rights advocacy and practical support to survivors of gross human rights violations and other forms of extreme cruelty.

Further information is available at http://www.stmarys-eastbarnet.org.uk or on 020 8361 7524.

http://www.hendontimes.co.uk/display.var.2171418.0.barnet_church_group_holds_sex_trafficking_lecture.php

Victims of domestic violence or abuse normally feel ashamed and responsible for what is happening to them and the church can make a real difference in society by providing a safe, non-judgemental environment where victims can share in confidence, says counsellor and life-skills coach Joanne Robinson.

Churches are being challenged to consider whether they may add to the fear of feeling guilty or being judged when a victim first approaches the church for help, and whether the use of Scripture can be misinterpreted by a victim at a time when they are emotionally vulnerable.

In her article in this month’s FaithAction magazine, Robinson makes a plea for churches to consider how they can become places of sanctuary and support for the hundreds of thousands of people caught up in psychological, sexual or financial violence or abuse in domestic households in the UK.

“The perpetrator usually has a pattern of coercing or controlling behaviour towards someone in an intimate or family-type relationship,” she writes. “How this affects the church, depends on how aware the church is about the problem and what they are actively doing to help their own church members and wider communities.”

She says if victims know that the church is a safe place where abuse is not tolerated, denied or silenced and somewhere they have support systems in place for dealing with the problem, they may be more willing to break the wall of silence and come forward for help.

Robinson, who herself spent many years coming from what she describes as “a violent household” also pleas for long-term support, including setting up a support and accountability group to which the victim can relate once they have removed themselves from further assault and attack.

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/churches.can.give.refuge.to.domestic.violence.victims.says.counsellor/17671.htm

Four people were identified as possible victims of trafficking after officers visited 12 addresses, as part of the nationwide Operation Pentameter 2.

A 50-year-old man has been charged with two offences of human trafficking and two offences of keeping a brothel, while a 47-year-old woman has been charged with one offence of keeping a brothel and one offence of money laundering.

Three other people were bailed pending further investigation following the arrests on Monday.

DCI Robbie Graham, Kent Police’s Pentameter co-ordinator said: “This activity has been as a result of a continuous commitment by Kent Police to ensure that those vulnerable victims exploited in this vile trade are identified, rescued and provided with appropriate support and protection.

“We will continue to target and investigate those individuals and criminal enterprises involved in exploiting people and making others lives a misery.”

Anyone who has any information regarding human trafficking or criminal gangs believed to be responsible for trafficking can contact Kent Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

http://www.crawleyobserver.co.uk/latest-south-east-news/Five-held-over-human-trafficking.3943592.jp

Tackling domestic violence has been one of the government’s key priorities since 1997. Today the government reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the victims of domestic violence with the announcement of more than thirty new Specialist Domestic Violence Court (SDVCs) systems across England and Wales. This brings the total number of SDVCs in the national programme to 98.

SDVCs are a fundamental part of the government’s efforts to improve the support and care we provide for victims of domestic violence. A multi-agency approach is central to the success of these innovative courts; police, prosecutors court staff, the probation service and specialist support services work together to identify, track and risk assess domestic violence cases, support victims and share information so that more offenders are brought to justice. Amongst the pioneering features are: –
* specially trained magistrates in dealing with domestic violence
* separate entrances, exits and waiting areas so that victims don’t come into contact with their attackers
* cases clustered on a particular day or fast-tracked through the system, limiting the likelihood of further incidents
* tailored support and advice from Independent Domestic Violence Advisors.

Justice Minister, Bridget Prentice said:

“Since 1997 this government has done substantial work in trying to tackle this particularly appalling crime. Domestic violence deeply affects victims, regardless of gender, race, class, age and sexuality. This work is a continuation of the joint National Delivery Plan for Domestic Violence which sets out clear aims and objectives and is proving to be effective in protecting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice. Their success shows that where victims of domestic violence have confidence in the criminal justice system to report these crimes, the system will help them.”

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:

“Improving the support available to the courageous victims of these devastating crimes is crucial in encouraging people to come forward. The success and expansion of the Specialist Domestic Violence Courts system will ensure that we continue to bring more perpetrators to justice and improve the support and safety of victims. We have made good progress on domestic violence over the last ten years but we know there is more to do and I want to reassure women everywhere that keeping them safe from harm is a top Government priority.”

The Attorney General, Baroness Scotland QC said:

“The Specialist Domestic Violence Courts are a fundamental part of our effort to improve the support and care we provide for victims of domestic violence. We are committed to providing a first class prosecution service. By providing specialist training for prosecutors and better support systems for victims we are seeing a tangible difference in performance. In the last four years we have seen marked success – and we need to keep aiming higher. Perpetrators must be brought to justice, and when they are our specialist prosecutors and support services will be there to assist victims every step of the way.”

In a review of the first 23 SDVC systems, published on 8 March, it is clear that they have contributed to improvements in both justice and safety for domestic violence victims. Ten of those achieved a successful prosecution rate of over 70 per cent, with one reaching over 80 per cent and the remaining 12 achieving an average rate of 66 per cent.

Other key findings of the Review, conducted jointly by the Crown Prosecution Service, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, which analysed the data and performance of the 23 Specialist Domestic Violence Court systems in England and Wales from October 2006 until March 2007 are:
* An improvement in the responses of individual agencies: in relation to the police, a high level of domestic violence crimes being arrested (an average of over 80 percent);
* Just under six thousand victim referrals were made to Independent Domestic Violence Advisers – an average of 269 referrals per IDVA service; and, around three-quarters (74 percent) of clients involved in the court process were supported by Independent Domestic Violence Advisers at court.

We are delighted that these courts are proving successful and hope to continue rolling them out nationally.

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Notes:

1. The full list of the new selected specialist domestic violence court systems areas:

Region Local Justice Area Courthouse
East Midlands Mansfield LJA Mansfield MC
Eastern Beds and Mid Beds LJA Bedford MC
Eastern Luton and South Beds LJA Luton MC
North East Gateshead District LJA Gateshead MC
North West South Cheshire LJA Crewe MC
North West Furness and District LJA, South Lakeland LJA Barrow-in-Furness MC and Kendal MC
North West West Allerdale and Keswick LJA, Whitehaven LJA Workington MC and Whitehaven MC
North West Fylde Coast LJA Fylde Coast MC in Blackpool
North West Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale LJA Burnley MC
North West Lancaster LJA Lancaster MC
North West Preston LJA Preston MC
North West South Ribble LJA Leyland MC
North West Ormskirk LJA Ormskirk MC
South East Central Kent LJA Maidstone MC
South East Sussex Central LJA Brighton MC
South East Sussex Eastern LJA Hastings MC, Eastbourne MC and Lewes MC
South East Sussex Western and Northern LJAs Worthing MC and Crawley MC
South East Maidenhead- East Berks LJA, Reading- Reading LJA, Newbury-West Berks LJA Reading MC, Maidenhead MC and Newbury MC
South East Milton Keynes LJA Milton Keynes MC
South East Oxford LJA Oxford and Southern Oxfordshire MC
South West Bath and Wansdyke LJA Bath MC
South West Bristol Bristol MC
South West North Somerset North Somerset MC
South West North Devon LJA Barnstaple MC
South West East Cornwall LJA Bodmin MC
South West West Cornwall LJA Truro MC
South West South Devon LJA Torquay and Newton Abbot MC
South West North Wiltshire LJA and Swindon LJA Chippenham MC
South West Swindon LJA Swindon MC
Wales Flintshire LJA Mold MC
West Midlands Shrewsbury LJA Shrewsbury MC
West Midlands Telford and Bridgnorth LJA Telford MC
West Midlands Warwickshire LJA Nuneaton, Rugby and Stratford Upon Avon MC
Yorkshire/Humberside Wakefield LJA Wakefield and Pontefract MC
South East New Forest LJA Southampton MC

2. The Specialist Domestic Violence Review: http://www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/dv/dv018.htm;
http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/equality/index.html

3. Further information on Specialist Domestic Violence Courts can be found at http://www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/domesticviolence/domesticviolence59.htm

4. Details of Sexual Assault Referral Centres can be found at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime-victims/reducing-crime/sexual-offences/sexual-assault-referral-centres/referral-centre-locations/?version=4

5. More information on The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 can be found at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2004/ukpga_20040028_en_1

http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=364249&NewsAreaID=2

A mother of five who claimed she was gang raped by a group of teens who posted a video of the incident on YouTube has been arrested in connection with the incident.

In a shocking twist, the 24-year-old currently living in temporary accommodation in south-west London with her partner and young children, was arrested on Friday on suspicion of having sex with a minor and perverting the course of justice.

She was subsequently bailed pending further inquiries and is due to return to the same police station later this month.

No charges will be brought against the three teens – two aged 16 and one aged 14 – who were arrested over the episode earlier this year.

The woman claimed the three youths spiked her drink and raped her repeatedly in a 14-hour ordeal at her south London home last November.

But she did not report it to the police straightaway and claimed she was too scared to do so because the teenagers kept threatening her.

It was only a few months later, when a friend spotted the sickening three-minute clip of the incident on YouTube, that her partner encouraged her to report it to police.

The video had been posted on the site shortly after the episode took place and was seen by 600 people before it was removed by YouTube in February.

The footage shows the mum having sex with the teens, while she is seemingly unconscious. Two of her children are heard crying in the background and at times the youths laugh into the camera.

But despite the horrific nature of the video, investigating police officers have questioned the woman’s version of events. She could now be charged with having sex with a minor and perverting the course of justice.

Her children have also been placed on the Child Protection Register and she fears social services will take them away from her.

“I had no idea this would happen – I thought everything would be OK because I have told the truth,” she said. “The police are turning it on me – it’s ridiculous. I can’t take much more.

Her partner of 10 years, and father of her children, added: “What’s happened is totally outrageous. And we’ve been forced to stay where we are living for seven weeks – it’s unacceptable.

“We’ve done nothing wrong and we’re the ones suffering.”

A police spokesman confirmed the woman had been arrested and bailed and the teens are unlikely to face charges.

http://www.wimbledonguardian.co.uk/news/topstories/display.var.2161824.0.youtube_rape_mum_arrested.php

(See also “YouTube under fire over ‘rape’ footage” http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/apr/02/youtube.internet )