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RCIPS steps up victim protection

Local News 25 Oct, 2021 Follow News

DC Elizabeth Owens, DC Brian Faint, the DCFS' Marjorie Whittaker and Nicole Quinland

By Lindsey Turnbull

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to highlight recent endeavours by the RCIPS to help victims, two RCIPS detectives who are part of a team responding, managing and safeguarding risk when it comes to child protection and domestic violence spoke about their efforts to protect domestic violence victims from perpetrators.

DC Elizabeth Owens is part of this taskforce established to look at new ways to help people (mostly women but sometimes men as well) who have been victims of domestic violence. She explained how she had managed to employ a new method for ensuring that perpetrators were kept away from their victims.

In March of this year, she managed to get a Court Order under the Protection from Domestic Violence Law to help a victim. While domestic violence sufferers have been able to apply for a Court order themselves to put in place protection for themselves and often their children, even though the law was enacted in 2012 (revised in 2021) this was the first time the police had enacted these powers on behalf of someone.

“It was a very vulnerable victim who had made a report of various issues of domestic violence relating to one particular offender,” the detective explained. “She had initially given consent and then withdrew consent. She went through a journey and on the day of the Court hearing for the protection order she had resumed her consent.”

Crucially, the woman didn’t have to attend Court, she said.

Believing that the woman was overwhelmed by her circumstances, DC Owens said the woman required this “extra level of service”. DC Owens said the woman was ill-equipped to make the application herself, so she took the initiative and made the application, engaging with her and also utilising other services within the community to give her the support, such as Estella’s Place, the community outreach drop-in centre.

DC Owens said they saved the woman from further harm, and she confirmed that this, and other similar Court applications for protection orders, had managed to restore confidence for victims.

The RCIPS were looking at how such Court orders could assist and support more victims, particularly those who they had identified as high risk within the community. DC Brian Faint said he had been looking at ways to support and protect domestic violence victims, in particular how the RCIPS could utilise partners.

“It’s about shared risk collectively,” he stated, “police and the additional agencies all working together to safe guard the individuals.”

DC Faint explained that the protection order sought by the RCIPS was an interim protection order served on the perpetrator, which was then followed by a Court hearing about a week to ten days later.

“It’s only used in exceptional circumstances when we believe that the threat is so great that we need to do something,” he advised.

With the support of other agencies, victims are then able to get on with their lives, he said.

Nicole Quinland and Marjorie Whittaker from the Department of Children and Family Services spoke about their experiences working with such victims. Ms Quinland said that one thing people needed to remember was that victims of domestic violence needed to leave the perpetrator at least seven times before they actually left the situation, so the idea that the police were able to do this order for them was of great benefit to the victims, even if they were not willing to go ahead and do it for themselves, she advised.

Ms Quinland said only yesterday she had had a young mother and her children in her office waiting for such a Court order to be requested.

“This is a very important tool for victims,” she said. “It’s common that they don’t support it, but there are those who have got to the point where they feel the strength to go ahead and do it. It’s great that the police are able to do that.”

Ms Quinland said she worked at the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) which meant working closely with a variety of agencies, including schools, to help safeguard children in particular.

“What we have found is that it’s about linking victims with the various agencies and networks, so that they can find themselves in the better situation, so they have the strength to leave, and also to provide them with counselling services and services at the Crisis Centre,” she said.

Ms Quinland said that it was normal for the MASH and DCFS staff to see victims more than once, repeating the cycle of needing help again and again, but hoped that every time they needed their services, they got closer to leaving.

 

* * *

Domestic violence is not just physical violence, it can be emotional, financial, psychological or sexual in nature.

 

What can a protection order do?

A protection order can: stop someone engaging or threatening to engage in conduct which would constitute domestic violence towards the applicant; stop them being in the same building as the applicant (such as the applicant’s home, business, school or place of work), stop them engaging with the applicant, stop them taking possession or damaging property belonging to the applicant, and prevent the them from coming near the applicant.

 

Help is on hand

If you feel you need help, you can contact the RCIPS on 9-1-1 if you feel you are in danger. You can also call the CI Crisis Centre’s number 943-2422. You can email MASH at MASH@gov.ky or Estella’s Place (run by the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre) is also available for walk-in appointments. Call 949-0366 to make an appointment, or contact Carol-Anne Fordyce at 623-4825 or carol-anne.fordyce@cicc.ky.


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