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Monday, 08 May 2017

Justice system failing victims of domestic abuse and coercive behaviour, Plaid Cymru

Written by Jemma Crew

The justice system is failing to protect victims of stalking, harassment, domestic abuse and coercive behaviour from further distress, according to a new report.

Just over half of the 122 victims of those crimes surveyed had a restraining order taken out against the perpetrator, the report released by Plaid Cymru and the charity Voice4Victims found.

Of these orders, two-thirds did not explicitly forbid recipients from contacting their victims online, despite the prevalence of social media and online communication, the study said.

More than half of the victims were contacted on the internet at least once by the person convicted of stalking or harassing them, it found, with more than a quarter reporting being approached online more than three times.

Satisfaction with the police in dealing with the unwanted messaging was said to be low, with almost two thirds (65%) of those spoken to believing the service was "poor" or "extremely poor".

Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts (pictured) said: "We had to carry out this research to uncover the experiences victims were having with restraining orders after we received an influx of cases where people had had distressing incidents involving their perpetrators.

"We found that the situation was much bleaker than we expected and it has become clear that there are serious inadequacies in the criminal justice system and serious failings by criminal justice agencies.

"The police, Crown Prosecution Service and all other agencies that work with victims of crime must be liable in law if they fail to comply with the victims' code and provide a sub-standard service."

The survey also noted that victims were being dragged into "vexatious court claims" by the subjects of the restraining orders, which risked causing "further trauma, harm and mental distress".

Ms Roberts said she would be introducing a private members' bill to strengthen restraining orders if re-elected in the June 8 General Election.

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