New Support for Welsh Assault Victims

Wales’ first specialist domestic violence court programme was launched in Gwent yesterday, in a bid to reduce the number of attacks in the home. The aims of Gwent Specialist Domestic Violence Court Programme are to help improve victim safety and bring more perpetrators to justice. Key players, including the police, probation and the Criminal Prosecution Service, hope it will mean cases can be fast-tracked.

According to police figures, reported incidents of violence in the home against men and women in Gwent in 2005-06 rose to a four-year high of 4,770.

Under the programme, courts in the county will provide independent advisers for victims and dedicated prosecutors, as well as legal advisers and police officers who specialise in domestic violence cases.

It is hoped that the programme will build on the success of the pilot scheme, Project Saff, in Caerphilly.

Mike Tonge, chief constable of Gwent and chairman of Gwent Criminal Justice Board, said: “We are committed to working in partnership to tackle domestic violence, because it devastates people’s lives. We are very proud that Gwent is leading the way in Wales and I am confident it will provide victims with a high-quality service, along with support and advice from trained experts.

“We take domestic violence very seriously and it is important to take steps to force a change in culture so that everyone understands that is is never acceptable.”

The National Assembly is providing £1.9m to fund eight projects in Wales and the Home Office has supplied enough cash to cover the cost of specialist advisers in each authority in Gwent for six months.

Edwina Hart, Assembly Minister for social justice and regeneration, said: “Domestic abuse must not be tolerated and, I believe, that by working together we can make a real difference to the lives of people in Wales.

The Assembly takes the problem of domestic abuse in Wales very seriously and supports a number of projects that make a valuable contribution to helping victims.”