Sunderland campaigner backs domestic violence experts

Claire Phillipson of Wearside Women in Need.

Claire Phillipson of Wearside Women in Need.

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A leading campaigner is backing experts who say domestic violence victims should not be brought face-to-face with their abusers.

Restorative Justice (RJ) is a form of sentencing that brings victims and offenders together, allowing criminals to meet those affected by their actions.

Vera Baird, police and crime commissioner for Northumbria Police.

Vera Baird, police and crime commissioner for Northumbria Police.

But in a recent speech to the Police Federation, Home Secretary Theresa May raised concerns about it being used for victims of domestic abuse, saying it did not make sense ‘to sit vulnerable victims across from perpetrators who for months and years may have destroyed their confidence, manipulated their mind, and beaten their bodies.’

Her comments were echoed by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, who said that while Restorative Justice could help some victims recover from their experience, she was firmly against it being used in domestic abuse cases: “There are many benefits with RJ, but it is hardly a one size fits all approach - far from it - and I find it very worrying if it’s being used in cases of domestic abuse,” she said.

Wearside Women in Need coordinator Claire Phillipson agrees.

She said: “Usually, perpetrators of this type of crime are highly manipulative people. It is not a spontaneous crime – it tends to be something people do as part of a pattern.

Usually, perpetrators of this type of crime are highly manipulative people. It is not a spontaneous crime – it tends to be something people do as part of a pattern.

Claire Phillipson

“Domestic violence is something which is part of a pattern. Perpetrators will blame the victim and victims will often blame themselves. We just don’t think it’s safe.

“What we do agree with is preventative programmes where people who are domestic abusers have to look at their behaviour in the long term and look at how they can change that behaviour.”