Abstract title: Experiences of the Young Persons IDVA in Leicester relating to limited access to justice remedies for young people

Abstract

The workshop will highlight the experiences of the Young Persons IDVA in Leicester. This began in December 2015, providing Leicester city with a more specialist response for our young people who are experiencing high risk domestic abuse.  The role of our Young Person’s Independent Domestic Violence Advocate/advisor (YP IDVA), is to support and respond to 0-19 year old high risk victims experiencing intimate partner and/or familial violence.

During this time, the YP IDVA service has seen a correlation between the reduced outcomes for a young victim in comparison to their adult counterpart.  For example, with current civil remedies, when trying to obtain a protective order for a younger victim, there are additional barriers to consider around meeting the threshold for legal aid. This could be due to them being solely dependent on their parents’ income. So, a 16 year old victim of intimate partner abuse, living at home with parents, needs a non-molestation order, but does not meet the threshold for legal aid. Parents refuse to fund the cost of getting the order as they do not feel they should be burdened with this financial penalty when their child is actually. How do we respond to this issue so the victim is protected in a timely manner? Without notice, protective orders cannot be given, regardless of the age of the victim, where the victim’s abuser is under the age of 18 years old. How do we protect the younger victim when this happens and they then refuse to proceed with an application for fear of retribution, if the young perpetrator is given notice? How does an 18 year old victim, living with a 17 year old abusive partner proceed, after reporting details of their intimate relationship abuse, expecting to access criminal remedies, and is then notified that no further action will be taken and a domestic violence protective notice/order cannot be given because the abusive partner is under 18?

We have seen limited access to civil and criminal remedies in cases where the young victims or young people using abusive behaviours are under 18 years old.   The workshop will take the position that the civil and criminal justice system should improve its domestic abuse response for this age group, enabling our younger victims of domestic violence and abuse to access the same level of protection an adult can.  This must be at the critical point in their journey, so that they can recover and also, so that we, as key practitioners, can support them to manage the risks identified and minimise the adverse effect and impact of their traumatic experience.

Our experience shows that there are different considerations when looking at safety and risk with a young person and the definition of domestic abuse, which include 16yrs and over, is problematic. The YP IDVAs are seeing an increase of young victims coming forward and younger partners using abusive behaviours.

The current processes we have in place are not adequate enough to support our young people in a more age appropriate way.  The implications of services and statutory agencies not doing something about this, will increase the risk of further harm to our young people, increasing their lack of confidence in criminal and civil justice system responses. Without access to justice responses, the experiences of the YP IDVA is that this will have an adverse effect on the young person’s well-being and safety, their social, cognitive, physical, physiological and psychological development, their view of the world and may negatively affect any future relationships they have.

Our 1hr workshop will help you to identify what the impact is and some of the specific barriers there are for our young victims when attempting to deal with their relationship abuse.    We aim to explore how we can improve the current response so that we have better service response and protection available for our young victims and young people using abusive behaviours.   Participants will look at the journey within the civil and criminal process through the eyes of a young victim, using two case study samples.  You will be able compare significant differences between the adult victim and the young victims’ journey.   Outcomes from the workshop will be fed back through the civil and criminal justice working group.