Aims, Policy & Practice
National Centre for Domestic Violence
NCDV was established in 2002 in Lambeth, South London
(originally named the London Centre for Domestic Violence).
Why we provide our service
Before the Centre was operational, the Police and victims faced two problems when using local firms of solicitors
to obtain non-molestation orders. Generally, solicitors were only willing to accept clients that were either eligible
for public funding or clients who could afford to pay privately, thus leaving all those people ‘not eligible’ with no
access to funds, unprotected.
The other main issue was that solicitors were taking between two days and two weeks to get the client into court
and obtain the order.
We were convinced that victims of domestic violence and abuse could be daunted by the vast amount of various
legal agencies offering to assist. We saw the need for a one-stop-shop where the concerns of those in an abusive
situation could be addressed in their language and on their terms. Furthermore this streamlined service, could
and should be free and accessible to everybody.
A free, fast legal support service
Our service is targeted at the rapid relief of domestic violence and abuse. The majority of cases referred to us will
result in speedy action in the civil courts, but, we are also able to advise on those services providing alternative
refuge accommodation and on legal protection for children caught up in abusive or failing relationships.
The service works as follows:
- There are two central numbers both of which are monitored 24-hours a day.
- Full details are obtained with a high priority being given to respect for the wishes of the survivor.
- Centre staff then advice as to the range of remedies available (most of which will be part of one or more of the
Family Law Act 1996). Again, we view reassurance as an important aspect of our approach. Many survivors will
not have experience of the civil courts and many fear them. The availability of without-notice orders is
explained and can alleviate understandable concerns of reprisals by the perpetrator.
- Once a client has indicated their preference for a particular remedy, the necessary witness statement is
prepared and eligibility for legal aid assessed
- Clients qualifying for public funding are thereafter referred to a solicitor on the Centre’s Panel of solicitors. Our
relationship with Panel solicitors is such that clients will rarely need to make an additional journey to the solicitor,
with most meeting theirs for the first time at court on the day of the hearing.
Protection irrespective of financial circumstances
Those whose income or capital takes them above the threshold for public funding can be provided with a Mckenzie Friend to assist in drafting the relevant paperwork and making the application in Court.
As to timing, the Centre aims to get cases to Court on the first working day after initial contact. In cases of extreme urgency (involving risk of child abduction for instance) the Centre is conversant with the procedure for obtaining and enforcing orders out of usual court hours. In any event, clients will have been familiarised with the whole court experience as part of the initial advice that NCDV provides. The Centre can also offer practical assistance with getting to court if such is required. Centre staff have access to a qualified lawyer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year should they encounter circumstances beyond their own experience and expertise.
To provide this service NCDV continually train law students from universities and training centres throughout the
country. In addition we run specialist training courses for numerous Police forces and government agencies
throughout the county.
Our Aim: Protection for All, Now
Thus far, the Centre’s success has been beyond all expectation. Clients have achieved the protection and security they desire and have been able to start down the long road of recovery from abuse without having been further traumatised by the procedures necessary to obtain protection. Nonetheless, there is no room for complacency when dealing with those who have been downtrodden or violated, and we encourage clients to share with us their views as to how the service may be further enhanced. Thus we, together with our clients and the agencies with whom we work are on a voyage towards a safer, happier future.
NCDV will evolve with the challenges we meet but offers no compromise in our key aim: to be the vehicle by which violence and abuse are banished from the lives of our clients, and a companion for them on their journey to recovery and reassurance.