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Refuge responds to the latest HMIC report
Refuge responds to the latest HMIC report

Refuge responds to the latest HMIC report on police response to domestic violence Sandra Horley, CBE, chief executive of Refuge says: “HMICFRS report makes for very grim reading.   Refuge is deeply concerned that despite an abundance of good intentions and training initiatives, little appears to have changed for victims of domestic abuse. We are particularly worried to discover that there has been a fall in the number of arrests made and referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service.  It is abundantly clear that the current policy of police discretion in cases of domestic violence is not working and that the abuse of women is still not being taken seriously by the police.  Judgemental, negative and sexist attitudes towards abused women are deeply entrenched in police culture and society as a whole.  It is clear we need massive radical change.    “Refuge, like the police, has experienced an increase in demand without a corresponding increase in resources. We are overstretched and need additional support for services including the national domestic violence helpline which is under threat. In spite of this, we continue to provide a safe, compassionate and responsive service to 6000 women and children on any given day. These victims need and deserve police protection.  This should not be discretionary. “Refuge has been calling for a mandatory arrest and charge policy where there are reasonable grounds in cases of domestic violence, as in Canada. "It is timely that the Government is introducing a new domestic violence Bill. It is crucial that violence against women and girls is made explicit on the face of the Bill and that it is finally treated with the seriousness that it deserves. “Refuge is pleased that the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, is continuing to bring national oversight to the issue of police response to domestic violence A spokesperson is available for comment. For more information and to arrange an interview please contact press@refuge.org.uk 0207 395 7731 | 07970 894240 (out of hours)

Register for Walk4 2017!
Register for Walk4 2017!

Walk4 is back! Register now and you will come together to build a future free from domestic violence     On Saturday 9th September you and hundreds of others can walk across four of London’s most iconic bridges, knowing every step you take means we can support the thousands of women and children who need us. 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence during their lives. We all know someone who is experiencing domestic violence, someone who needs Refuge’s support. By taking part in Walk4 you will raise vital money that will save and change lives, now and for future generations.   Registration fee: £10 (free for children under 16) Minimum sponsorship: £150 per person Distance: 10k   Find out more about the incredible day we had last year in our full report. Don't miss out in being part of another incredible day - register today. Together we are stronger. Together, we will Walk4 a world free from domestic violence. All Walk4 photography © Julian Nieman  

#15babiesaday initiative joins forces with Refuge
#15babiesaday initiative joins forces with Refuge

On Thursday 15th June Sands (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity) erected washing lines with 15 baby grows hanging from them, in iconic locations around the UK to provoke a discussion as to why 15 babies die before, during or shortly after birth every day in the UK. Locations for these #15babiesaday displays included the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, Tate Modern, the London Assembly and outside parliament buildings in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. The 750 baby grows which were displayed around the UK are now being donated to anti-domestic violence charity Refuge. This is to highlight the fact that domestic violence can be a cause of miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Almost one fifth (18.2%) of women who arrive at Refuge’s services are pregnant or have recently had a baby. This increases to 23% in Refuge accommodation. On average, one baby dies every 90 minutes in the UK. While the number of deaths has fallen in recent years, this is no time to be complacent. We are moving three times slower than some other European countries to save lives. The rate of mortality also varies hugely from region to region, reflecting a map of poverty and health inequality. This postcode lottery is unacceptable. Dr Clea Harmer, Chief Executive of Sands (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity), said: “Our #15babiesaday initiative has provided an important opportunity to raise awareness of the fact that 15 babies die before, during and after birth every day in the UK.  The full extent of the tragedy of stillbirth and neonatal death is not widely known – leaving families feeling alone, isolated and unsure where to turn for help and support when their baby dies.  We want to change this, break the taboo, and increase our understanding of why these deaths occur.  The 15 baby grows on a washing line have been the focal point of this initiative and we are delighted to be able to send them to Refuge in the knowledge that they will help mothers and babies who have had to flee domestic violence.” Sandra Horley, CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said: “One third of domestic violence either starts or gets worse when a woman becomes pregnant and more than a fifth of women who access Refuge’s services are pregnant.  Women who come to our refuges often flee their abusive partners in the middle of the night taking with them nothing more than the clothes they are wearing and have very little money with which to begin a new life.  We are very grateful to Sands for the donation of baby grows which we will distribute to women across our services.  Thank you so much for this much needed support.” The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) supported #15babiesaday. Commenting, RCM’s Director of Midwifery, Louise Silverton, said: “The RCM is supporting Sands with their latest campaign #15babiesaday as we believe that it is crucial to work together to reduce antenatal stillbirths and avoidable baby deaths. “There are initiatives and training already being carried out across the UK to improve the rates of unavoidable baby deaths, but we need to ensure midwives have the time to do a thorough initial assessment of a woman, as well as ongoing risk assessments. This is where continuity of care and carer can play a crucial part and maternity services should also be reaching out to those women who are only engaging with maternity services late into their pregnancy. “We also must ensure that there are enough bereavement midwives in place to ensure that parents and families get the support they need. Our hope is that all bereaved parents receive the same level of care and support regardless of where they live in the UK.” For further information on #15babiesaday visit: www.sands.org.uk/get-involved/sands-awareness-month  

76% of domestic homicides occur shortly after a woman has left the perpetrator. Please help Refuge save lives
76% of domestic homicides occur shortly after a woman has left the perpetrator. Please help Refuge save lives

Your support really does save and change lives. Please donate to Refuge today. The point at which a woman leaves a violent partner is often the most dangerous. 76% of domestic homicides occur shortly after a woman has left the perpetrator. Refuge's outreach workers are out on the frontline, working discreetly within the community, supporting women in a variety of safe locations. The outreach team ensures women understand their options, can make informed decisions about their futures and stay safe. Your support means we can continue to provide specialist domestic violence services, including outreach support, keeping more women and children safe from violence and fear. A donation today will help Refuge save lives.     One of Refuge's outreach support workers gives her story below: ...........................................   Please forgive me for writing you a message that I cannot sign with my real name. This is because I work in the shadows, helping women abused by their partners move to a place of safety. You can understand how difficult leaving is for women – after years of being belittled, having their confidence destroyed, physically abused, and in terror of what their partner would do if they left. (Around 76% of domestic homicides occur shortly after a woman has left the perpetrator.) In my job, no two days are the same and neither are the women and children I work with. Some of my clients may have just begun to realise that their partner’s behaviour is abusive and might need guidance around keeping safe. Some women could have every detail of escape mapped out and might just need support to take the final step. Then often there is still the task of helping women brave the court system to seek protection from her partner and also custody of the children; I have to do all of this as discreetly as possible. Hiding in the shadows but always being there when needed. Most of the women will only know me by my first name. For their sake and mine, it is vital that their violent partners cannot track me down. Of course my job is very, very stressful. But it is also very, very rewarding.  I have helped many women find a place of safety and begin a new life. A Refuge outreach support worker will be handling multiple client cases at any one time. We wish we had more time to help more women – which is why I am writing this message to you. We know that giving to a charity is always a good thing, and a gift to Refuge can really make a difference to the women and children we support. This is why I am brave (and committed) enough to ask for a donation to help our courageous group of shadow helpers. Your donation could help ensure I continue to be just a phone call or text message away from helping more women out of appalling situations of violence into a new life, together with their children. I am very grateful that you have read this right to the end, and look forward to hearing from you in the near future.       Outreach support worker Refuge ...........................................  Donate to Refuge today using our secure online donation form or by calling the fundraising team on 020 7395 7771. Your support can help ensure that we can be there for more women and children who need us. Thank you for helping Refuge save lives.  

Refuge chief executive, Sandra Horley, publishes new edition of 'Power and Control'
Refuge chief executive, Sandra Horley, publishes new edition of 'Power and Control'

Refuge chief executive, Sandra Horley CBE, has published a new edition of her ground-breaking book Power and Control: why charming men can make dangerous lovers.  In Power and Control, Sandra Horley draws on over 35 years of experience supporting abused women to provide an insight into the reality behind the mask of the charming man. Since the first edition of Sandra Horley’s book, there has been a shift in public attitudes when it comes to domestic violence. Now, domestic violence appears on the front pages of newspapers and in the nation’s favourite soap operas. Legislation has been strengthened, and many more women now know there is support and they do not need to suffer in silence. Yet domestic violence remains one of the biggest issues affecting women and children in our society: One woman in four will experience domestic violence at some point in her life Two women are killed by their current or former partner every single week in England and Wales alone The National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Refuge and Women's Aid, receives more than 86,000 calls a year, many from women fearing for their lives   It is clear that even 25 years on from the first edition of Power and Control, the pattern of men controlling women endures. What has evolved though, are some of the methods of control. Technology has a major role to play in the abuse of women and has provided abusers with an array of new weapons, which give them the power to terrorise and control a woman from a distance. Power and Control is the real story of domestic violence, a story of men whose charm hides a darker truth - the ability to inflict devastating emotional and physical damage. But ultimately it is a story of courage and strength, told by women who have reclaimed their lives so that others may too. You can buy the book here. About the Author Sandra Horley has been the Chief Executive of Refuge, the national domestic violence charity, since 1983. She has been working in the field of domestic violence for almost four decades, supporting women and children experiencing all forms of male violence and abuse. A committed campaigner on behalf of abused women and children, Sandra has not only played a pivotal role in raising the profile of domestic violence in the UK amongst the public, she has lobbied effectively for changes in government policy and legislation. She also advises governments internationally on gender-based violence and criminal justice. Sandra received a CBE in 2011 for ‘services to the prevention of domestic violence’ and an OBE in 1999 for ‘services to the protection of women and children’. Under her leadership, Refuge was named Charity of the Year 2016 at the Charity Times Awards for its outstanding services and dedication to its clients in a difficult funding climate. Refuge currently supports almost 5,000 women and children on any given day. Sandra was featured on the front page of the Guardian's Family section on Saturday 24 June, talking about the book. For more information, contact the Refuge press office on press@refuge.org.uk or 0207 395 7731. For out of hours and weekend press enquiries, please call 07970 894240. Photography copyright Julian Nieman for Refuge

Refuge responds to Queen’s Speech Domestic Violence and Abuse Act announcement
Refuge responds to Queen’s Speech Domestic Violence and Abuse Act announcement

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said: “Refuge welcomes the announcement that the Government is to bring forward a new draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill.  It is heartening to see that the Prime Minister remains committed to addressing an issue that claims the lives of two women every week in England and Wales, and blights the childhoods of at least 750,000 children every year. “Refuge has protected abused women and children for 45 years, and supports almost 5,000 women and children fleeing domestic violence on any given day. “We are working with the Government to ensure that this new Act will bring the sea change that is needed to give survivors the protection and support they need and deserve, and end domestic violence once and for all. We hope that the pre-legislative scrutiny process will give sufficient time to allow Parliament to consider all necessary reform, including in the criminal justice and legal systems. “We are delighted to see that the Bill will include a new statutory definition of domestic violence and abuse. Refuge also welcomes confirmation that there will be a new Courts Bill which will finally prevent domestic violence victims being directly cross-examined by their perpetrators in the family courts. “It is vital that the Government makes available sufficient funding and training to ensure that the new legislation has a meaningful impact on the lives of women and children who experience domestic violence. “Time is of the essence when it comes to the danger that women and children face on a daily basis. Therefore we are also pleased the Government is committed to looking at what can be achieved outside of the bill process to deliver fast improvements for women at risk of violence.” For more information, contact the Refuge press office on press@refuge.org.uk or 0207 395 7731. For out of hours and weekend press enquiries, please call 07970 894240.

Surrey police firearms licencing officer sacked for failings in case concerning shooting of Christine and Lucy Lee
Surrey police firearms licencing officer sacked for failings in case concerning shooting of Christine and Lucy Lee

An IPCC report published today confirms that a Surrey police firearms licencing officer has been sacked for failings in relation to the return of shotguns to John Lowe, one of which was subsequently used to kill Christine and Lucy Lee in February 2014. A firearms licencing supervisor retired before he could face a disciplinary hearing. The IPCC report details a litany of failings leading to the return of the shotguns, which the police had removed after receiving a report that John Lowe had threatened to shoot the daughter and sister of Christine and Lucy, Stacy Banner. The report makes recommendations to improve firearms licencing locally and nationally. The IPCC has also published a second report concerning the arrest and detention of Stacy Banner a few weeks after the killing of her mother and sister. The IPCC has concluded that an inspector has a case to answer in disciplinary proceedings for gross misconduct. Stacy was arrested at her home, with her children upstairs in bed, and was held in police custody overnight, despite her obvious distress and extreme vulnerability. No further action was taken in relation to any criminal charges. According to the report into the shootings, the police held the following information indicating John Lowe was not suitable to retain a firearms licence, in addition to the allegation of the threat to shoot Stacy Banner: Reports of domestic abuse, including previous threats to kill; Evidence of association with criminals; Report of involvement in a burglary; Evidence of alcohol abuse; Evidence of impaired mental functioning and/or other medical conditions relevant to the suitability to hold firearms; Evidence of dishonesty in his previous application for a firearms licence (failure to disclose a criminal offence; failure to disclose relevant medical history). The report also discloses wholesale failings on the part of Surrey police firearms licencing department in their investigation of the threat to kill Stacy Banner, including: accepting the account of John Lowe in relation to the threats to kill, without apprising themselves of information obtained by the investigating officer, and without reading the witness statements of Stacy Banner or two witnesses to threats to kill; applying the criminal standard of proof to the allegation of a threat to kill in deciding whether it provided sufficient grounds to justify rescinding the shotguns licence; failing to review the file and other records to check what other information was known to the police about John Lowe’s suitability to hold shotguns; failing to identify that John Lowe was a domestic abuser. The report also confirms that Stacy was not told that the firearms had been returned to John Lowe. As a result she was not able to complain about this to the force or warn her mother and sister about the risk they faced. The report also finds that at force level, there was inappropriate delegation of the Chief Constable’s licencing powers, and there was inadequate training including in relation to domestic abuse. Stacy Banner has now asked the Senior Coroner for Surrey, Richard Travers, to resume the inquest into the deaths of Christine and Lucy Lee. His decision is awaited. She also plans to bring a civil claim against the Chief Constable of Surrey police. Stacy Banner said, “These reports show that I was right all along about my concerns about Surrey police’s failings. It is devastating to see your worst fears confirmed in black and white about how those entrusted with the public safety can abuse and neglect their powers. But for the police’s failings, my mum and sister would be here today. To then find myself detained overnight contrary to the law, as the report confirms, in the same police station - possibly the same cell - where my mum and sister’s killer had been held, beggars belief. Now I want to see change nationally on how the police deal with firearms licencing. Changes were promised after the Michael Atherton case – but still my mother and sister are dead. Enough is enough.” Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge, said, “It takes a great deal to shock me. I have been campaigning to improve the police response to domestic violence for forty years. But I am shocked that Surrey Police decided to return five shotguns to John Lowe – a dangerous, violent, man with a history of domestic violence and other crime, after he threatened to shoot his stepdaughter, Stacy Banner, dead. And that they decided they did not need to take further action to investigate Stacy’s allegation in spite of independent witness evidence. But that decision was made even more devastating when John Lowe went on to use those very same guns to kill Stacy’s sister and mother – Lucy and Christine Lee. He even said he would have killed Stacy, too, if he had had time. “I am relieved the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has finally completed its investigation. It has taken three years – an agonising wait for Stacy and the rest of her family. It is appropriate that one of the officers responsible for that devastating decision to return the guns has been sacked. But I am sorry that another has retired before the IPCC came to its conclusion. Two women are killed every single week in England and Wales by a violent partner or former partner. There have been countless reports, investigations, homicide reviews, serious case reviews, inquests – the list goes on. And yes, there have been improvements. But Refuge supports 5,000 women and children every day. Many of them have begged the police for help. Things are not changing fast enough. Stacy repeatedly warned the police about Lowe. It is a tragedy they did not take her seriously. And Refuge supports Stacy’s call for an inquest to get answers to all the other questions the IPCC decided not to examine.” Stacy’s solicitor, Sarah Ricca of Deighton Pierce Glynn, said, “The IPCC recommendations in this shocking case include that the licensing team should liaise with officers investigating allegations against firearms license holders. In other words, the IPCC is recommending that licensing team staff do their job. It is a vindication for Stacy Banner that staff faced dismissal proceedings and one was sacked, and that both local and national recommendations have been made. It is further vindication that the IPCC has found that officers, including a senior officer, should face disciplinary action arising from Stacy’s arrest and detention, just weeks after the killing of her mother and sister. It is a bitter reality for Stacy that if Surrey police had shown similar zeal in relation to the policing of John Lowe, her mother and sister could still be alive today.” Contact the Refuge press office on press@refuge.org.uk or 0207 395 7731. For out of hours and weekend press enquiries, please call 07970 894240. Image: Stacy Banner with photographs of her mother, Christine Lee, and her sister, Lucy Lee. Copyright Julian Nieman for Refuge. Notes to editors Christine and Lucy Lee were shot and killed by John Lowe at Keepers Cottage Stud farm, near Guildford, Surrey, on 23 February 2014. John Lowe pleaded not guilty to murder but was convicted on 29 October 2014 and sentenced to life imprisonment on 31 October 2014 at Guildford Crown Court. John Lowe had seven shotguns. These were removed from him in May 2013 after Stacy Banner reported to the police that he had threatened to kill her at gunpoint. Five of the seven guns were returned to him on 11 July 2013. The IPCC report on the Michael Atherton case can be found here            

Refuge responds to the latest HMIC report on police response to domestic violence
Refuge responds to the latest HMIC report on police response to domestic violence

Responding to the latest report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) on the state of policing, Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said: “Refuge commends HMIC’s work over the years to scrutinise police forces’ response to domestic violence. Today’s report is a further step towards good policing that recognises the need to protect women from violent partners. “However, the report also shows that there is much more work to do if women who experience domestic violence are to have confidence in the police. Still, the police response is a postcode lottery. The rate of arrest for domestic abuse crimes ranges from 25% in some areas to 83% in others – as HMIC says, this unacceptable and, even more worryingly, unexplained. Three forces were not even able to provide arrest data. “Moreover, Refuge supports many women who – after finding the courage to report to the police – are still not believed and instead made to feel embarrassed for wasting police time rather than being treated with the same seriousness as other victims of violent crime. “It is also extremely worrying to see that all but one force had at least one reported allegation of abuse of authority for sexual gain, and that more than a third of these allegations involved victims of domestic abuse. This shows that vulnerable women are still being let down by the police when they should expect to be supported and protected. “Refuge is very concerned that the police are still under-performing in this area despite years of pressure from HMIC and charities like Refuge. Culture change in the police requires strong leadership and a commitment to reform. Over the past few years, we have welcomed the determination from the top to change police attitudes to domestic violence and abuse. Yet, the real test is whether this leads to increased protection and prosecution. If we still fail to see significant progress on prosecution, new approaches may be needed – for example trialling mandatory arrest and charge where there are reasonable grounds for conviction, as happens in other countries such as Canada. “Women deserve more from police forces. They deserve to be listened to and believed. They deserve the right to be treated compassionately and respectfully by police officers, and ultimately to see violent men prosecuted for their crimes. The goal for all police forces should be to offer women who report violence the protection they need.” Refuge can provide case studies of women who have experienced a poor police response to domestic violence. Please contact the Refuge press office on press@refuge.org.uk or 0207 395 7731. For out of hours and weekend press enquiries, please call 07970 894240.

Refuge delighted to receive £250,000 share of Tampon Tax fund for Technological Empowerment Programme
Refuge delighted to receive £250,000 share of Tampon Tax fund for Technological Empowerment Programme

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive, said: “Refuge is delighted to have been awarded a £250,000 share of the Government’s Tampon Tax fund. With this money, Refuge will develop and deliver a three-year Technological Empowerment Programme for women who have experienced gender based violence. “Refuge supports almost 5,000 women and children on any given day. We have seen a substantial increase in the number of cases of “tech abuse”, where perpetrators misuse technology to abuse, control, humiliate and isolate women. Where in the past an abuser may have phoned his partner every half an hour to ensure she did not leave the house, now, he might use cameras, spyware or GPS software to put her under surveillance. When it comes to technology, the possibilities for abuse are endless – whether it is sending abusive emails, hijacking a woman’s social media account, or posting intimate pictures of her online. “With this funding, Refuge will ensure all of its frontline staff are equipped to meet the demands of the 21st century and give women and children the best possible support.” For further comment, contact the Refuge press office on press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731. For out of hours and weekend press enquiries, please call 07970 894240.

Refuge launches the third annual Bold is Beautiful project with Benefit Cosmetics
Refuge launches the third annual Bold is Beautiful project with Benefit Cosmetics

  Raise a brow and support Refuge this April! The annual Benefit Cosmetics' Bold is Beautiful project is returning to help raise funds for Refuge - with a pink twist! Throughout April, Refuge's corporate partner Benefit Cosmetics will be raising money for Refuge and the charity Look Good, Feel Better, with a range of fundraising activity, including: Pink pop-up charity shops across the country Brow waxes with all profits going to Refuge and Look Good, Feel Better Fundraising challenges by Benefit Cosmetics staff The project will kick off on 31 March with the opening of its first charity shop, called 'Raise a Brow.' After the first weekend in April, the shop will leave London and tour three other cities across the UK. London 35-37 Neal Street, WC2H 9PR Open to public Friday 31st March – Sunday 2nd April Dublin 17 South William Street Open to public Wednesday 5th April – Saturday 8th April Glasgow St Enoch Shopping Centre, G1 4BW Open to public Friday 21st April – Sunday 23rd April The 'Raise a Brow' pop-up shops will be full of pink donations, from clothes and candles, furniture and fragrance, to books, bags and blooms, donated from your favourite celebrities, brands and vloggers - all of which will be pink! One hundred per cent of funds raised from these sales will go to Refuge and Look Good, Feel Better. In addition, you can visit any Benefit Brow Bar during April and 100% of the profits from every brow wax will go directly to the two charities. Customers will receive a deluxe mini Gimme Brow worth £10 too! We are urging all of our supporters to help raise vital funds for Refuge, so make a note in your diary to visit a Benefit Brow Bar in April, or visit one of the pop-up stores if they are near you. And don't worry if there isn't a Raise a Brow pop-up near you: Benefit will also be holding an eBay auction from the 1st April, selling exclusive items including a signed Lulu Guiness and a gorgeous Suzanne Neville wedding dress. To donate pink items, visit your local Benefit boutique from mid-March where there’ll be a pink donation bin to add to. Alternatively you can send your donations to Benefit directly at: FAO Bold is Beautiful, The Printing Place 14 Hanbury Rd, Chelmsford CM1 3AE To find out more, visit uk.boldisbeautiful.com or join in the conversation on twitter with the hashtags #BoldisBeautiful and #RaiseABrow. For more information please contact press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731. For out of hours and weekend press enquiries, please call 07970 894240.

 

 

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