Cleveland Scrutiny Panel Celebrates First Birthday

01/02/2009

A ground-breaking CPS - led panel tackling domestic violence on Teesside is celebrating its first anniversary.

The Cleveland Domestic Violence Scrutiny Panel was launched a year ago.

It aims to examine the way cases are dealt with, consider how investigations and prosecutions can the improved and increase public confidence to encourage more victims to come forward.

Although led by the CPS, the multi-agency panel includes volunteers who are former victims of domestic violence.

Volunteer Kath Ferguson, 55, from Middlesbrough, said: "We are on the scrutiny panel to give help and advice - any advice that will benefit people regarding domestic violence.

"I think it's making the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the police, the victims of domestic violence and the future victims of domestic violence more aware of how we can help. We discuss actual cases and try to find out if there could be a different outcome."

Kath said victims of domestic violence are often terrified to come forward.

"If everyone works together to protect that victim to get a positive result I think it's extremely important," she said.

As well as the volunteers the panel is made up of the CPS, Cleveland Police and Middlesbrough Domestic Violence Forum.

The volunteers are also engaged in community work at My Sister's Place, a Middlesbrough-based women's advice centre for victims of domestic violence.

The panel, which was established after a series of meetings with community groups from June 2007, meets quarterly to review completed domestic violence cases.

Issues identified by the volunteers at the meetings are fed back to CPS and police officers and incorporated into their training.

The panel won the team award for outstanding achievement in caring for victims at the Cleveland Justice Awards last October.