What are my legal rights?

The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004) concentrates upon legal protection and assistance to victims of crime, particularly domestic violence.

Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 created a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship.

Controlling or coercive behaviour towards another can include or be committed in conjunction with a range of other offences including offences under: the Malicious Communications Act 1998; the Sexual Offences Act 2003; and the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 includes offences for stalking and Harassment.

Under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 it is illegal to practice FGM in the UK, to take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM whether or not it is lawful in that country and illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad. In July 2014 it became a criminal offence to force someone to marry against their will. The new legislation also makes forcing a UK national into marriage outside the UK an offence under domestic law for the first time. The offence is triable in courts in England and Wales. The maximum imprisonment is seven years.

What is the Police response?

The Police take cases of domestic abuse seriously and receive training on how to deal sensitively and proactively with both victims and perpetrators.

Officers attending a domestic abuse incident will complete a risk assessment form and will offer advice on places and ways to seek support.

In 2014 the Government introduced Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPN) and Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPO). A DVPN is issued by the police to protect victims from further violence or threats.

If the perpetrator does not adhere to the DVPN, a DVPO can be granted by a magistrate that can ban the perpetrator with immediate effect from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days, allowing the victim time to consider their options and get the support they need.

National support services

National Domestic Abuse Helpline:

Woman’s Aid

Karma Nirvana (Honour Crimes and Forced Marriages)

Men’s Advice Line

Galop LGBT+ Anti-Violence Charity Site

Rape Crisis England and Wales

The Hideout (website for children and young people)

Home Office Domestic Abuse pages

Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme (Clare’s Law)


Hourglass, support for older victims of abuse

Local support services


Cambridge Women’s Aid provide community outreach to victims in Cambridge City, East Cambridgeshire and South Cambridgeshire.

  • Self referral can be made via 01223 361214

Refuge provide community outreach to victims in Fenland, Huntingdonshire and Peterborough.

  • Self referral can be made via 07787 255821

Support Videos Available to survivors of domestic abuse in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The films are available in English, Urdu, Punjabi, Polish, Russian, Lithuanian and British Sign Language

There are four women’s refuges in Cambridgeshire for victims of high risk domestic abuse, provided by Cambridge Women’s Aid, Refuge and Peterborough Women’s Aid. Victims from Cambridgeshire would not normally be housed in the same area.

  • Referral to a women’s refuge is via the IDVA service via the DASH risk assessment checklist.
  • Referral can be made by professionals only.

For child protection/safeguarding enquiries

  • Call 0345 045 5203 (Cambridgeshire children) or
  • Call 01733 864180 (Peterborough children)

For adult safeguarding enquiries

  • Call 0345 045 5202 (Cambridgeshire Adults) or
  • Call 01733 747474 (Peterborough Adults)

Cambridge and Peterborough Rape Crisis Partnership

The Elms Sexual Assault Referral Centre

Clare’s Law

The Home Office domestic violence disclosure scheme, is named after Clare Wood who was murdered in 2009 by her ex-boyfriend, who had a history of violence against women.

Under the scheme, members of the public can make enquiries about their partner’s past, or as a third party who is concerned about someone they know who might be at risk of harm.

If you are applying as a third party, you must have some form of relationship with the potential victim such as sister, mother, friend, work colleague or neighbour. You must be able to supply details of the person who is potentially at risk of harm. You can make an application for disclosure by speaking to a police officer, calling 101, or visiting a police station.

After being approached by an individual, both the applicant’s and potential victim’s details must be recorded. No disclosure is to be given over the phone or in person at this stage. An appointment will then be made with a uniformed officer who will confirm the potential victim’s identity. This should take place within 10 days.

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