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In the majority of situations the answer is yes, it really can. An injunction is a powerful court order (non-molestation order) that prohibits an abuser from using or threatening violence against you, or harassing, pestering or intimidating you. If the order is breached, the police can then arrest that person immediately.
They are particularly useful when, having responded to your 999 phone call, the police find little evidence that warrants the arrest for a criminal offence. Sadly the police’s hands can be tied by the high burden of proof of the criminal law that often prevents them from being able to remove the abuser right then. An injunction allows for this arrest to take place much easier, however, so you have the confidence and peace of mind to know the legal system is on your side.
The feedback from survivors also suggests that the mere existence of an injunction can have a dramatic effect on the abuser’s behaviour. For the first time, an abuser will see that ‘other people’ are involved and there will be serious consequences if the abuse continues. This new time and space can then give you the confidence to take control of the situation again and rebuild your life abuse free.
NCDVs service is offered 100% free of charge, we have never charged a victim and we never will.
There may, however, be certain costs that need to be considered for an injunction application, such as a possible contribution towards legal aid. For those who are unable to afford any contribution to legal aid and therefore represent themselves, there may be a process serving cost and there is a court charge to make an application for a prohibited steps order. There are no court fees to make an application for a non-molestation order or occupation order. Any costs will be explained to you in full.
We do not charge to speak to anyone, whatever their income.
We always conduct a rapid means test. If your disposable income is below a certain level, you may qualify for free legal aid. If your disposable income is over that level, you would have to make a contribution to the legal aid costs. If you do not wish to pay that contribution, we can introduce you to a firm of solicitors who are happy to accept stage payments for the work they do.
We can help you represent yourself. We would draft your witness statement for you, prepare your Court application form and provide you with a McKenzie Friend (subject to area and availability) for support at Court. We make no charge for helping you in this way.
Our main concern is your personal safety and we will endeavour to help you secure this.
We will not judge any decision you make if, for example, you prefer to wait several weeks before making an injunction application. We would, however, be doing you a disservice if we did not explain the possible legal implications this may have. This is because, yes, time is an issue in law. To make an emergency application there will usually need to be a recent use or threat of violence within, at the most, the last seven days (this may be different if, for example, someone has been in hospital for several weeks prior to making an application or there have been bail conditions for the last month).
This means that an application for an injunction on an emergency basis, must be made as soon as possible. The law does not say ‘as soon as conveniently possible’ because this is inconsistent with an urgent need for protection. Of course, the benefits of obtaining an injunction sooner rather than later are self-explanatory – you have a stronger case and legal protection much quicker than otherwise.
This is sometimes not a problem and there may be other reasons that would still warrant an emergency injunction application.
The most common reasons are when someone has been in hospital, or the abuser has been serving a prison sentence or released with bail conditions following an arrest. When there has been a significant period of time since the last incident, there are two options.
When there has been a significant period of time since the last incident, NCDV could help you make an ‘on notice’ application for an injunction.
An injunction obtained ‘on notice’ is exactly the same as an injunction obtained ‘without notice’ on an emergency basis.
The only difference is the procedure under which the application is made. When an application is made for an injunction ‘without notice’ on an emergency basis, you go to court for that first hearing without the abuser knowing anything at all about the application. Whereas an application made on notice, means being given a future court date when the injunction application will be heard with both yourself and the abuser present.
The injunction would have the same powers attached to it and the police could arrest immediately if the order is breached.
Our main concern is your protection and welfare, so it is not a problem if you choose to take no further action with us. We will, of course, discuss your decision with you to make sure you feel safe and secure, so please make sure you call to let us know. If you change your mind, simply get back in touch and we will pick up your case from where we left – no one will judge you for having changed your mind.
However, you should be aware, as detailed in the above paragraphs, that time is an issue and if you change your mind after a number of weeks for example and there has not been another incident, then it may be that your application would have to be made ‘on notice’.
At NCDV, we understand that some people may require language support. While we do our best to assist every applicant and may have speakers of community languages within our teams, we cannot guarantee that specialist legal staff or panel solicitors will be able to assist later in the process. The last thing we want to do is set applicants up for failure. In certain circumstances, we are able to utilise a trusted friend or family member if the applicant wishes, and if our assessment shows it is safe to do so. When this is not possible, we may go back to the referrer to see if they can offer help or use a specialist interpreter service. With approximately 9000 referrals a month, our priority remains protecting people as quickly as possible.
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