Important new protections and support for victims of domestic violence

Standing up to violence in all its forms

The new measures will help protect potential victims - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Today (Thursday, May 6) residents will go to the polls across our Bay to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall.

Some have been in touch asking why we elect a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in addition to having a chief constable? 

The PCC was introduced in 2012 to replace the then Devon and Cornwall Police Authority.

While members of the authority, including from Torbay, worked diligently in their roles, it is safe to say few had ever heard of it beyond political or local government circles.

The PCC has powers over the police budget and setting local policing priorities but not over policing operations or individual cases which are the responsibility of the chief constable.

The two roles are separate but designed to work alongside each other.

The current PCC for Devon and Cornwall is Torbay resident Alison Hernandez, who grew up in the Bay and is a former pupil of Torquay Girls' Grammar School.

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Domestic Abuse Bill passes

The landmark Domestic Abuse Bill was passed by Parliament last week.  

The measures within it include important new protections and support for victims, including ensuring abusers will no longer be allowed to directly cross-examine their victims in the family and civil courts.

The police will also be given new powers, including Domestic Abuse Protection Notices providing victims with immediate protection from abusers, while courts will be able to hand out new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to help prevent offending by forcing perpetrators to take steps to change their behaviour, including seeking mental health support or drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

In recent weeks, the Government added new measures to the bill to further strengthen the law, including creating a new offence of non-fatal strangulation, making it an offence to threaten the disclosure of intimate images, and clarifying the law to further clamp down on claims of 'rough sex gone wrong' in cases involving death or serious injury.

These are welcome measures which will help protect potential victims and ensure those who have committed serious crimes cannot exploit legal loopholes to smear their victim and escape justice.  

Animal cruelty sentencing victory 

Another Bill passed last week will increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty to five years imprisonment, from the current six months. 

This change means those who engage in sadistic acts against animals, including dog fighting, can expect to spend significant time behind bars.  

The campaign to increase the maximum sentence is one I have supported since first being elected to Parliament six years ago, so it is great to see this much-needed change made.

Surgery times 

Following the latest easing of lockdown rules, I have restarted face to face advice surgeries, but telephone appointments can still be arranged if preferred.

Sadly, my surgeries must remain by appointment only at this stage.

Surgeries are for urgent personal matters such as welfare, immigration, housing, problems accessing support and benefits.

For an appointment you can either email me at kevin@kevinjfoster.com or leave a message on 01803 214989. 

You can also drop into my office at 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD between 10am and 1pm Monday to Friday.

Please note you may have to wait outside if others attend at the same time.