Prioritise the removal of perpetrators to relieve pressure on domestic abuse refuges
When police are called to a domestic abuse incident, the alleged perpetrator should be removed rather than the victim and their children, Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Leanne Wood has said.
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Justice Minister Leanne Wood AM was calling upon the Welsh Government to work with local authorities, housing associations and specialist domestic abuse services to help find and fund suitable accommodation centres for both survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Wood said the priority should be on removing the alleged perpetrator from the residence in order to relieve pressure on refuges and to keep survivors safe.
Domestic Violence Prevention Notices (DVPNs) and Domestic Violence Prevention Orders (DVPOs) are currently widely used by North Wales Police to remove perpetrators for 28 days.
Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said that DVPNs and DVPOs were effective in providing “short term protection” for survivors and would allow them a “temporary respite” from their abuser and time to access support services without interference.
Mr Jones said this would be ideal given the current circumstances.
Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Public Services Delyth Jewell AM added that the Welsh Government could ramp up its public awareness campaign aimed at encouraging neighbours to raise concerns or to ensure people know where they can find support.
Ms Jewell suggested those experiencing abuse could use a “safe word” when shopping to discreetly ask for help – which is a practice used in France and Spain.
Plaid Cymru Shadow Justice Minister Leanne Wood AM said,
“The Coronavirus lockdown means those experiencing domestic abuse will be forced to spend more time with perpetrators, escalating the threat of violence and abuse towards them and restricting their freedom.
“We’re already hearing reports of several deaths due to domestic abuse since the lockdown began and evidence from other countries shows that incidents increase during restrictions. It’s an epidemic within a pandemic.
“There are lessons we can learn from other countries such as Italy or France where the alleged perpetrator rather than the person experiencing abuse is removed when the police are called to a domestic abuse incident.
“The Welsh Government should work with local authorities, housing associations and specialist domestic abuse services to help find and fund suitable accommodation centres for both survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“That’s where the priority should be in order to relieve pressures on refuges and keep survivors safe.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said,
“Home is supposed to be the safest place for all of us right now but sadly that isn’t true for those experiencing domestic abuse.
“But domestic abuse remains a crime. I want to reassure anyone who feels at risk or who is currently suffering that the police and the many support services that exist are standing ready to help them.
“North Wales Police currently use DVPN and DVPO to remove alleged perpetrators of domestic abuse and abuse from the home for 28 days.
“They are effective in providing short term protection to the survivor and to give them breathing space by granting a temporary respite from their abuser and allowing referral to support services without interference – which is ideal during the circumstances we are currently in.
Delyth Jewell AM and shadow minister for public services added,
“It’s easy to forget that home isn’t always a sanctuary or a refuge for many people and there’s still so much more we could be doing to support people suffering from domestic abuse.
“The Welsh Government could ramp up their current public awareness campaign through broadcast and print as well as social media, aimed at encouraging neighbours to raise concerns and not to be bystanders.
“Any public messaging should ensure that people know where to go for support and help.
“Those suffering from domestic abuse could also use a ‘safe word’ when shopping so they can ask for help discreetly – like they have been doing in France and Spain. In Spain the government has told women they will not be fined if they leave home to report abuse. Italy have launched an app that will allow women to ask for help from the police without having to make a phone call.
“There are great examples of best practice we could learn from other countries here in Wales and to support the most vulnerable in these most trying times.