Manchester

Domestic Violence Protection Orders let victims 'escape'

More than 100 domestic abusers have been barred from their partners' homes in Greater Manchester.

The use of Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPO), which force offenders to leave residences and stay away from victims, began in the area in July.

The orders are being tested by the Greater Manchester, Wiltshire and West Mercia police forces.

Det Supt Philip Owen said DVPOs allowed victims "to escape their abuser" without fleeing.

The magistrate-granted orders ban people who have committed domestic violence from contacting their victims or entering their home, with those who breach the rules sentenced to up to six weeks in prison.

Mr Owen said they had given police and other agencies a new approach to dealing with domestic violence.

'Protect vulnerable people'

"In the past where there was no other alternative, police and partners would remove the victim and their family away from their home to a place of safety," he said.

"However, under this pilot, the perpetrator is the one who has to move out of the home and who is held to account, allowing the victims to stay in their own homes rather than flee to a friend's home, or a refuge, to escape their abuser.

"The courts can order the perpetrator not to go near the victim for up to 28 days and that allows the victim to take stock and decide where they want to be.

"They can get help from Victim Support Services, solicitors and other support services who can draw up a safety plan."

A 64-year-old woman who was granted a DVPO who had suffered abuse from her partner for 21 years said it had changed her life.

"The DVPO allowed me to be free from abuse and start a whole new life for myself," she said.

"I would urge any other victims to report abuse as there really is help out there."

Councillor Suzanne Richards, lead member for women's issues at Manchester City Council, said DVPOs were "another tool" being used by the agencies involved with helping victims of domestic abuse.

"We are using DVPOs to turn this situation on its head and help protect vulnerable people," she said.

"The fact that 100 have been issued demonstrates there is a genuine need for them."

The pilot of DVPOs runs until summer 2012, when the Home Office will decide if they will be made available to all police forces.

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