Emotional abuse

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MP Rosie Duffield received a standing ovation after telling MPs about her own experience of coercive control.

Abuse victims to phone judge in pilot

A distressed woman
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The pilot aims to reduce stress for victims

Survivors of domestic abuse in Surrey can now phone a judge for a protective order rather than appear in court.

The scheme being piloted by the Family Court at Guildford aims to reduce travel times and to make the process less intimidating.

The call will need to be made from a recognised organisation such as Citizens Advice or a solicitor’s office.

But senior county court judge for Surrey, Peter Nathan, said it was a "fundamental change from existing procedures".

Trauma

He added: “The judge is still going to have to be satisfied that the evidence is there to grant the order."

But he said: “These people are going through a crisis and to have to travel… particularly by public transport from East Surrey to Guildford… It’s a long and expensive journey. To do that for a 10 minute hearing is a big ask.”

Miatta Marke, Director of Operations at East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services, welcomed the move.

She said: “We are talking about survivors who have never come across the court system before and are really intimidated by court.

“Now, they can give an account of their trauma and the risk that they are facing in familiar surroundings, with their outreach worker, in a safe, supportive environment.”