Throughout November 2013, Tony conducted a campaign to highlight the issues faced by victims of domestic violence and address the concerns of both victims and agencies in dealing with these cases.
Tony held a number of evidence-gathering sessions took place across Greater Manchester where victims, survivors and representatives of domestic abuse agencies were invited to give their views and share their experiences of not only the police service but also other criminal justice partner agencies including the Crown Prosecution Service, HM Courts Service, Probation and council support services. Victims were also encouraged to identify ways in which the services could be improved.
Attendees were asked to add their comments to a ‘Victim’s Journey Map’ which allowed them to share experiences of the various services from first reporting domestic abuse through to prosecution and beyond. Participants were also asked to consider what services were currently not available to victims of domestic abuse which they thought should be provided.
Tony or his deputy, Jim Battle, was present at each event to hear the views discussed. Trained volunteers from Victim Support Services were present at all sessions to provide support to any of the participants.
The evidence gathered was subsequently presented to a public forum on domestic violence which took place at the end of November. Key points from the evidence-gathering sessions were presented.
The public forum consisted of:
- Presentation of how services are delivered by Greater Manchester Police and other criminal justice agencies to victims of domestic violence
- Presentation of evidence gathered during the consultation period
- Video footage of victims experiences
- Questions posed by Tony, Jim and Debbie Abrahams MP to a panel of experts including Greater Manchester Police, magistrates, HM Courts Service and the CPS.
The public forum resulted in actions to address the concerns made by victims which included:
- Witnesses providing evidence by video link in a location outside of the court.
- Establishing a more joined-up approach to providing support for victims, regardless of where/how they seek help initially, ensuring the help is tailored to the victim’s needs.
- Looking to encourage increased third party reporting where applicable.
- Exploring how victims who fall below the threshold for more intensive intervention (this is called the Marac process. Marac stands for Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference) can best be supported and protected.
This process of engagement from evidence-gathering through to public scrutiny of service provision provided an innovative, accountable and transparent method of public engagement. Agencies were presented with powerful and current feedback from victims and asked to provide responses in a public forum as to how the issues will be addressed.
The actions identified through the forum have been picked up with the agencies concerned. Updates on progress will be sought at regular intervals and published on Tony’s website.