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New power to curb domestic violence

PUBLISHED: 11:29 12 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:17 03 July 2010

A pioneering power which will help protect thousands of victims of domestic abuse has been used for the first time in Norfolk - and police say it could play a vital role in saving lives.

A pioneering power which will help protect thousands of victims of domestic abuse has been used for the first time in Norfolk - and police say it could play a vital role in saving lives.

Norfolk police successfully applied to magistrates for a lifetime restrain-ing order on Scott Holdsworth, 35, after he was convicted of assaulting his female partner - and if he breaches the order he could be jailed for five years.

Police only got the power to ask for the orders at the end of September and within weeks detectives in the Norwich-based Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit placed one on Holdsworth, less than 24 hours after he had assaulted his partner.

Detectives said they would not hesitate to apply for more of the orders where appropriate and said the courts could impose restraining orders on abusers charged with any offence, even if they were cleared but still considered a threat.

The aim is to help free victims from the pattern of abuse. At the moment abusers often get released from prison, return to their former partners and the cycle of violence begins again.

Detective Sergeant Gary Dack, who heads the Norwich Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit, said: “This new legislation is a powerful tool in our battle against domestic abuse.

“The court now has powers to issue these restraining orders even in the event of a not guilty verdict at court.

“Holdsworth is a repeat perpetrator and has previous convictions for assaulting the same partner. The order issued will give her strength to break free from his power and control and will assist police in protecting her from harm.”

Holdsworth, of West Earlham in Norwich, appeared at the city's magistrates' court on Wednesday after an assault on his partner in Larkman Lane the previous night.

He admitted assault and was sentenced to 16 weeks in jail, as well as being given the lifetime restrain-ing order not to contact his victim, directly or indirectly for life, and to stay 100m away from her home.

Mr Dack said the new powers meant abuse victims would be able to obtain protection without having to go to a separate court or to find the funding, which is often beyond victims, to pay for civil orders.

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