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Stalkers are Avoiding Custodial Sentences

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New figures from the Ministry of Justice reveal that offenders convicted of stalking or harassment who repeatedly breach their restraining orders often escape with fines and non-custodial sentences.

Politicians and victim support groups warn that lives are being put at risk by this failure to take action against repeat offenders who habitually breach the orders, which can be imposed for a range of offences including domestic violence and coercive control.

MoJ figures reveal that almost two-thirds of those who breached their orders received a non-custodial sentence. Even when the offender had committed multiple breaches, a custodial term was unlikely.

“Stalking victims are being put at great risk when police, CPS and courts fail to uphold restraining orders and allow breaches to go unpunished,” said Claire Waxman, a stalking survivor who founded the charity Voice4Victims.

“This gives the stalker the belief that their behaviour is acceptable and that the order is meaningless. The victim suffers further trauma as they realise that they are powerless and that this legal intervention does not deter their abuser, nor provide any real security or protection. The victim is left vulnerable and fearful of what will come next.”

Given that a recent study by the University of Gloucestershire found that stalking was present in 94% of the 358 cases of criminal homicides they looked at, this lack of serious consequences for stalking perpetrators is deeply troubling. “Practically every case we looked at featured examples of the obsessive, fixated behaviour that typifies stalking,” researcher Dr Jane Monckton Smith said.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which runs the National Stalking Helpline, warned that failure to take action on stalking could lead to an escalation in violence and potentially death. It called on courts to recognise stalking as a broader problem and pattern of behaviour.

Stalking could present itself in acts such as rearranging a victim’s garden furniture, sending unwanted gifts, loitering on the pavement outside their house, or even calling social services to maliciously report “poor” parenting.

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Activist Guide for Local Elections

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EVAW (The End Violence Against Women Coalition) has launched an ‘activist pack‘ to help anyone who wants to campaign on violence against women and girls find and approach candidates in the 4 May local elections.

On 4 May 2017 there are elections in many parts of the UK, including in Nottinghamshire. Many of those who are elected will have a say in funding decisions and will be well placed to encourage local public services – like the police, health and transport – to prioritise tackling violence against women and girls.

You can use their Activist Guide to help locate candidates and for advice on what to say. They have also created template letters to Local Council candidates and there is a VAWG Factsheet if you need to get hold of local VAWG data for your campaigning.

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Two Thirds of Women in Refuges Have Their Children With Them

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The national domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid is highlighting the number of mothers and children living in domestic abuse refuges, releasing startling new statistics from its Annual Survey 2016.

The Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2016 found that:

● On a typical day, two thirds of women in refuges had their children with them
● On a typical day, 78 women and 78 children were turned away from refuge
● More women and children were turned away from refuges than were let in

Refuges provide life-saving support, shelter and the chance to rebuild lives. However, the long-term future of refuges is in jeopardy due to changes to ‘supported housing’ funding. Refuges are bearing the brunt of local authority funding cuts; the Women’s Aid Annual Survey found that a third of domestic abuse services run part of their service with no dedicated funding at all.

The Government has stepped in with emergency funding several times, but a long term commitment to funding is vital to save refuges and save lives.

 

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:

“We found that, on one typical day in a refuge, two thirds of the women there have their children with them. The horror of domestic abuse – of fleeing your home and running for your life – means that these mothers often struggle to support their traumatised children, who have nothing left of their old lives except for mum.

This is a hugely stressful and painful time. But, the specialist support provided by refuges means that these women and children have the expertise they need to rebuild and recover. They are the lucky ones: due to a lack of space, 78 women and 78 children could be turned away from a refuge on any given day.

In fact, throughout the year, more women and children were turned away from refuges than were able to get in, showing just how huge the demand is for refuges.”

 

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WAIS Survivors Create Historic Change in Legal Aid Across the UK

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Women’s Aid Integrated Services are pleased to announce that the courage and contribution of WAIS service users has brought about a major change in the legal aid system throughout the UK. This will affect every woman going through the family law courts who has experienced domestic violence and abuse.

WAIS were put forward to the Ministry of Justice by Women’s Aid England in August 2016, allowing officials to hear first hand from service users just how the widely criticised rules affected and prevented women from seeking legal representation in disputed family court hearings.

The review of legal aid has led to the government announcing that it will now scrap rules requiring survivors to prove they’ve experienced abuse in the past five years in order to apply for legal aid.

The second major change also means that survivors will be able to draw upon a much wider pool of resources to evidence abuse – which will also include records and statements from domestic abuse charities like WAIS and other organisations working with survivors.

Val Lunn, Chief Executive Officer at WAIS stated “We welcome the changes in the rules. We’re pleased that the Ministry of Justice listened to what survivors had to say and we’re very proud of the women who were willing to share painful and upsetting experiences in order to make the situation better for other women in the future. Our job as an organisation is not just to provide services to women and children but also to highlight unfair rules and systems. This is a victory for women and for common sense”.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive Officer at Women’s Aid England has written a personal letter of thanks to the survivors who attended the meeting. In her letter she wrote “I hope it reassures you to know that your courage was genuinely the deciding factor in achieving change in this case”.

The courage of these women now means that others who find themselves in a similar position can access safety and justice through the law. It wouldn’t have happened without them. We’ll be celebrating with a tea party in April!

Read more in this Guardian article.

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Tougher Sentences for So-Called ‘Revenge Porn’

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The devastating effects of sharing sexual images without consent can never be underestimated, so it is welcome news that the Sentencing Council have launched a consultation on proposed rules for judges and magistrates when punishing so-called ‘revenge porn’ perpetrators in England and Wales.

Revenge porn offenders who send explicit pictures to the families of their victims or who set up websites to magnify their targets’ humiliation will face the most severe penalties under new sentencing proposals.

Circulating revenge pornography carries a maximum jail term of two years, so those who send pictures to their victims’ families or set up websites could soon face prison terms at the upper end of this scale.

The guidelines are the first to give advice to courts under new laws covering the sharing of “private sexual images”, which has only been an offence since April 2015. More than 200 prosecutions have since been brought. Previously, offenders had to be prosecuted under copyright or harassment laws and victims often found it difficult to have images taken down.

Defendants who circulate pictures widely, or in large numbers, will also be placed in the most serious bracket.

Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said: “Revenge porn is an awful abuse of trust which can leave victims feeling humiliated and degraded. It is right that our courts recognise the severity of this crime.”

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Safeguarding Children & Young People Training

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The Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Board is delivering training sessions on Safeguarding Children and Young People from Child Sexual Exploitation.  The aim of the course is to increase awareness of child sexual exploitation amongst staff who work directly with young people and to enable them to respond appropriately and confidently to concerns or disclosures of such exploitation, and manage cases effectively.

This course provides an in depth understanding of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) indicators and risks, grooming models including the use of the internet, and equips participants with the knowledge and confidence to manage disclosures and suspicions of CSE effectively and in accordance with LSCB procedures.

Participants are expected to have undertaken some level of broader safeguarding training, and to have completed the e-learning on Child Sexual Exploitation which can be accessed here.

 

Learning outcomes

  • Understand issues related to child sexual exploitation, the different ways it can occur and the associated legislation
  • Be able to identify factors which may leave children and young people exposed to sexual exploitation
  • Be able to recognise signs and indicators of child sexual exploitation
  • Be able to manage suspicions and disclosures effectively and take appropriate action
  • Be able to act in accordance with Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Safeguarding

    Children Board Child Sexual Exploitation Practice Guidance and Pathways

     

     

Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 8.52.20 pm

Further information, including an application form, can be found here.

 

 

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Sex & Relationships Education to be Made Compulsory

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We welcome the news that sex and relationships education is to be made compulsory in all schools in England. The Education Secretary Justine Greening recently confirmed this policy shift following months of campaigning from charities and MPs.

The current curriculum is years out of date and does not reflect the dangers faced by young people today. We’ve been pioneering education about healthy relationships for children and young people for many years now. Our award-winning GREAT Project helps primary school children to understand abuse and positive relationships, while our work in secondary schools tackles gangs, sexting and coercive control. It is hugely encouraging to know that all schools will be obliged to deliver expert, up to date education on these vital subjects rather than just some.

All children from the age of four will be taught about safe and healthy relationships and children in secondary schools will be given age-appropriate lessons about sex. A YouGov poll from Barnardo’s children’s charity earlier this year found 74 per cent of 11-15 year-olds said they would feel safer if they were taught about sex and relationships in school. The Government’s announcement will mean all schools across England are now bound by the same obligation and must include lessons on the dangers of online pornography, sexting and sexual harassment.

 

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Equation is Recruiting for a Marketing Executive

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Equation, the domestic abuse prevention charity, has an exciting opportunity to join our marketing team.

This role is an integral part of the wider team. Reporting to the Head of Fundraising, you will work with the Heads of Service and co-ordinators to ensure that all Equation’s external communications are professional, on brand and high quality. This work supports the success of Equation’s services and the generation of income for Equation’s work against domestic abuse.

You should have experience within a marketing role and be able to take on multiple tasks within a busy team. Responsibilities will include branding, social media, website and internal and external communications.

By working with Heads of Service you will ensure that Equation’s strategy is implemented successfully in order to continue and grow the work we deliver.

This role will suit someone who has an interest in our charitable work and you should be able to demonstrate how this will enable you to be successful in this role.

Equation offers a generous 26-days’ holiday allowance plus bank holidays (pro rata), gives employees flexibility on working times, and commits to continuing professional development of its staff through a variety of training opportunities. We are a small, positive and efficient team which will number 18 at the start of the contract.

Working hours: 22.5 hours per week

Working term: Fixed Term for one year – may be extended subject to successful fundraising

Salary: NJC Scale 5, Spinal Column Pt 22-25, £20, 263 – £22, 212 (pro rata)

How to apply

Download the application pack using the links and return your details to us according to the instructions on the application form.

Person Specification

Job Description

Application Form

The deadline for applications is 9.00 am, Monday 20th March 2017. 

Candidates will be contacted by phone in the first instance. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview, to be held on Tuesday 28th March 2017.

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Free Domestic Abuse Resources to #HelpAFriend

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As part of Equation’s #HelpAFriend campaign in March, we have launched two new awareness resources available for you to order: a set of posters to help people spot the warning signs of a friend experiencing domestic abuse, and a handy guide to supporting a friend who is in an abusive relationship.

Warning Signs: Posters

This set of 6 bright and attention-grabbing posters shows what domestic abuse can look like to a friend from the outside. Each poster explains one of the less well-known “warning signs” (control, jealousy, manipulation, isolation, pressure, and fear).  The posters direct to the 24-hour helpline as the central point of support for local women survivors and their friends and family. Suitable for all community venues and places of work.

During March 2017, workers and residents in Nottingham City can each order up to 5 sets of Warning Signs posters for FREE.

Warning Signs posters

How to Help A Friend: Booklet

These quick guides are designed for people with friends or family members experiencing domestic abuse. Concise and small (A6) in size, the handy booklets provide simple step-by-step information about how to help in a safe and supportive way. The booklets give guidance to friends and family about what to say and do, and also helpfully include a peel-out Domestic Violence and Abuse Information Card to give to a survivor of domestic abuse. The cards cover essential safety and support information for women in Nottingham or Nottinghamshire.

The general advice in the guide is also relevant for men and people of any gender.

These booklets are useful for anyone living locally wanting to know how to support someone close to them who is being hurt by a partner or ex.

During March 2017, workers and residents in Nottingham City can order up to 50 How to Help a Friend booklets for FREE (post and packaging costs apply). If you are outside of Nottingham, please refer to the prices below.

Quantity Price per booklet: collection (£) Price: postage and packaging (£)
1-5 1.12 4.50
6-10 0.96 6.00
11-25 0.72 11.00
26-50 0.64 16.50
51-100+ 0.5 27.50

How to Order

Order your resources now using our online order form.

online order form
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Equation launches #HelpAFriend campaign

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This March, Equation is trialling a new campaign in Nottingham that could help people save their friends from the harm of domestic abuse. For the first time in the City, ordinary residents will be given tools to recognise if someone close to them is experiencing abuse, and to help their friends reach expert support.

Equation is trialling the #HelpAFriend project using an attention-grabbing social media and print campaign, and several promotional giveaway events. We hope the campaign will increase the number of women accessing the local 24-hour domestic and sexual violence helpline (0808 800 0340), which receives up to 14,000 calls each year.

Chloe Cheeseman, Campaigns Coordinator, says: “Many people experiencing domestic abuse find it difficult to report what is happening to professional support agencies, which means a huge number of survivors are not receiving any help.

“Their friends and family, who are ordinary people like you and me, can make a huge difference. They are very well-placed to spot the warning signs of abuse, and to help friends or family access support that can keep them safe and well.”

Equation’s innovative campaign shows what abuse can look like to a friend from the outside. By promoting the simple steps involved in responding helpfully to friends or family who are being hurt by a partner, we hope to build the tools and confidence of everyone in the local community to be an upstander against domestic abuse.

If you are worried that your friend is being hurt by her partner, ring the 24-hour domestic and sexual violence helpline to find out how you can help: 0808 800 0340. The helpline is run by Women’s Aid Integrated Services; find out more at wais.org.uk

You can also find out more about how to support a friend or family member on our dedicated campaign webpage: equation.org.uk/help-someone

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