POLICE in Devon and Cornwall have welcomed the granting of new powers to help victims of domestic violence and abuse.

Police may now authorise a Domestic Violence Protection Notice where a perpetrator has been violent or threatening towards a victim, or their children.

The notice may be authorised whilst the perpetrator is in custody and protects the victim from violence or a threat of preventing the eviction or exclusion of a victim and their children, prohibiting the perpetrator from entering the premises, or preventing the perpetrator from going within a certain distance of a specified property.

Within 24 hours of the notice being issued the police can then apply to the court for a Domestic Violence Protection Order, which carries the same prohibitions and can last between 14 and 28 days.

Detective Chief Inspector John Trott from the Devon and Cornwall Public Protection Unit said: “This scheme will now give vulnerable victims who are in a state of crisis, a level of breathing space to consider their options, receive further help from support agencies whilst at the same time providing them with a degree of protection that they would not have had before.”

“We have incidents of domestic violence that are reported to us but on occasions there is insufficient evidence to bring a charge. In the past, the suspect has then been released from custody, often without any restrictions on their movement.

“Under the new scheme if there is concern that a partner has been the subject of violence or the threat of violence and that risk remains a 48 hour Domestic Violence Protection Notice can be authorised by a Superintendent before a suspect leaves custody.

“This can result in banning the perpetrator from returning to the victim's address (which might also be their home), or the area around it, and from molesting the victim. In the past it was the victim and their children that felt they had to move to keep safe.

"Thankfully, that is not the case now. We then refer the notice to the Magistrates Court who decide if the notice should be turned into an order which can last between 14 and 28 days.”