Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

Public Protection? the Implications of Grayling's 'Transforming Rehabilitation' Agenda on the Safety of Women and Children

Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

Public Protection? the Implications of Grayling's 'Transforming Rehabilitation' Agenda on the Safety of Women and Children

Article excerpt

Domestic abuse and the need to protect women and children

This article explores the impact of the Ministry of Justice's Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) agenda in terms of looking at the potential increase in risk to women and children as a result of the transfer of domestic abuse perpetrator cases from Probation Trusts to a variety of private/voluntary organisations. Consideration is given to the difficulties of risk assessment of domestic abuse cases, and the methodology of intervention with court mandated domestic abuse perpetrators in the UK. The majority of domestic abuse cases will be assessed as posing a medium risk of causing harm and under TR and will receive lower levels of intervention by potentially unqualified and inexperienced staff, who will case manage, undertake programme intervention and enforce court mandated sanctions. This article will recommend that all domestic violence cases, or cases where domestic abuse has been a risk factor previously, should remain under the auspices of probation intervention and probation case managed supervision. This is essential to minimise risk and to reduce harm to the public, primarily women and children.

Although this article concentrates on male abuse of women, it is acknowledged that domestic abuse can occur within relationships encompassing all genders, ethnicities, age groups, those experiencing disabilities, across cultural, religious, economic and geographical boundaries (Jewkes, 2002; Walby and Allen, 2004). The work of criminal justice agencies in the UK predominantly looks at male abuse of female victims since most abusive individuals processed through the court system are men.

Domestic abuse is one of the most insidious of all issues within society, making its devastating impact, either directly or indirectly, on significant numbers of the population. There has been ample evaluative research confirming that one in four women experience abuse at some point in their lives (Morley and Mullender, 1994). Domestic abuse accounts for some fifteen per cent of all reported incidents of violence in the UK (Kershaw and Walker, 2007). The impact of domestic abuse on victims and survivors is enormous. Victims experience a huge range of negative outcomes and harm, including all levels of physical injury, psychological harm, emotional damage and, domestic abuse can have a significant impact on that person's ability to be an effective parent, to connect with friends/family or to engage in self-care and employment. Abusive behaviour has what is described as a 'radiating impact,' on the victim themselves, on their children, on family members, friends, colleagues and everyone connected with that person (Riger et al., 2002; Hester et al., 2007; Wood et al., 2011). Domestic abuse is a whole family issue, impacting on the most vulnerable within a family unit, children. Research is unequivocal in showing us that children are greatly affected by directly experiencing domestic abuse, but also indirectly experiencing it by witnessing such abuse within their home environment. Moreover, there is a recognised overlap between domestic abuse and child sexual abuse (Humphries and Mullender, 2000; Mullender et al., 2002; Hester et al., 2007). Children who are sexually abused are, in the main, abused by someone who knows them and this is more often than not within a domestically abusive home environment.

75% of all UK children on child protection registers are affected by domestic violence. Children experience physical injury and sexual abuse, and witnessing domestic violence is emotionally abusive resulting in psychological trauma, anger, fear, insecurity and guilt. In 40-66% of domestic violence cases, the same violent man is directly abusing the children.' (Edleson, 1999)

The vast majority of individuals who use abusive behaviour to control and dominate within intimate relationships are heterosexual men. Domestic violence amounting to a quarter of all violent crime within the UK (Mirlees-Black et al. …

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