Violence Against Women and Girls Scrutiny Panel

These crimes touch all communities, victims of domestic violence, rape, and other sexual offences live in fear of their perpetrators and that the crime(s) committed against them have a devastating impact on their lives even after the defendant has been convicted.

The panels meet three times a year and are vitally important; they have a crucial part to play in helping us to ensure our service to victims and witnesses is always as good as it can be.

Panel members are drawn from local communities and involve a wide range of people from many backgrounds. The panel is independently facilitated by Dr Jacki Tapley from the University of Portsmouth. Cases are presented by the Violence Against Women and Girls Coordinator, who also answers ay questions the community members may have. The Chief Crown Prosecutor sits on the panel and ensures that issues are actioned appropriately. Representatives from the three police forces across Wessex and Her Majesty's Court Service are also represented.

The panel members are given full access to concluded violence against women and girls cases and then highlight best practice or suggest areas for improvement.

Scrutiny assists victim and son turn lives around

The Violence Against Women and Girls Scrutiny Panel scrutinised a case in which the victim had been subjected to a serious assault by the suspect, her then partner in what was described as a controlling relationship with numerous previous incidents. The case resulted in no charges being brought and both the suspect and victim being arrested due to self-defence injuries being inflicted by the victim. 

The scrutiny process identified a number of concerns in relation to how the police had handled the investigation, and the decision making by the CPS regarding whether a prosecution could be brought.

As a result, with support from Dorset Police who are members of the Panel, they met with the victim to hear first-hand the impact the police response had on both her and her son. It was clear that the police intervention and lack of prosecution had a particularly damaging impact on not only the victim but her teenage son, leaving them with serious confidence and trust issues in agencies to be able to help and not make things worse.

Following this the police made a number of changes to processes in conjunction with the victim to improve services to future victims in these situations in particular around not arresting both parties.

The victim has been able to put this episode of her life behind her and move forward, she continues to work with the police and also Domestic Abuse Intervention Training (DAIT) on a voluntary basis as an ambassador talking to victims of domestic abuse encouraging them to make changes in their lives for the better. The victim's son who at the time was at a very influential age has been able to rebuild his trust in the police and public authorities.

It is clear that without the case being scrutinised the future for this victim and her son and the overall service to victims in these instances could be much different.

Community Panel Members

Dr Jacki Tapley, Independent Facilitator, University of Portsmouth

Karen Evans, North East Hampshire Domestic Abuse Forum

Councillor Molly Rennie, West Dorset District Council, DV, Refuge

Molly is an elected member of West Dorset District Council. She is elected as a Liberal Democrat.

Molly became involved in domestic violence after meeting Erin Pizzey, founder of the first refuge in Chiswick in 1971, and set about campaigning for a refuge service in West Dorset which led to the opening of a Womens Refuge 15 years ago. She chairs the domestic abuse forum and is the member with lead responsibility for domestic violence and abuse sitting on various working groups with an accent on housing and supported groups who can be often seen to be difficult to house and often support to.

Citizens Advice Witness Service

Victim Support

Rachel Wetton, Splitz, Wiltshire

Pauline Collier, Domestic Abuse Intervention Training (DAIT), Dorset

Olwen Kelly, Swindon Women's Aid

Shonagh Dillon, Aurora New Dawn, Portsmouth

Zoe Jackson, Aurora New Dawn, Portsmouth

Malcolm Hayes, Independent Community Member, Hampshire

Bernadette Macdonald-Raggett, Director, Restore Support Network, Dorset, BME Community Engagement Representative

Lisa Dowry, Borough of Poole

Tonia Redvers, You Trust, Hampshire