The Domestic Abuse Focus Group
The Domestic Abuse Focus Group was set up in 2019 in response to the growing problem of domestic abuse in the county, which was further exacerbated during the pandemic. The Group is chaired by His Honour Christopher Critchlow DL.
The aims of the Group are:
- To support all in the county whose work is helping the victims and survivors of DA.
- To raise public awareness of DA.
- To hold conferences and lectures to which members of the public, police officers, Judges and JPs, academics and students are invited.
The Group is in regular contact – and was throughout the pandemic – with senior officers in the Surrey Police, the SCC Community Safety team, and agencies and charities operating across the county to support victims of DA. These contacts have included the four refuges – the East Surrey DA Service, the North Surrey DA Service, Your Sanctuary and the Oasis Charity, and also the Surrey Chamber of Commerce which as a result notified its members how to raise awareness among their employees of where they can find help if they are a victim of DA. The Group also has contact with the Army at Deepcut.
In September 2021 the Group organised a conference at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford involving a victim talking about her experiences, a senior police officer, a refuge CEO, SCC safety team members, a District Judge of the Family Court, a Crown Court judge and probation officers. A meeting was later held at the Family Court in Guildford to which some members of the agencies were invited to discuss with judges how better arrangements might be made at Court for victims. The Chairman has visited some of the prisons in Surrey and learnt about the work being done to help female victims of DA who are serving sentences, sometimes for crimes they were forced to commit by their partners, and with perpetrators who say they want to cease abusive to their partners.
Other recent work of the Group has included a talk by Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws QC at the University of Surrey on 20 October about DA.
As the High Sheriff of Surrey for 2022, the Chairman of the Group has the support of those helping victims of DA as one of his two themes during his year of office.