JSF announces it's first investment - pioneering project to help children overcome trauma from domestic homicide
Today we announced our investment to The Anna Freud Centre who will be running the pilot of a specialist programme to help children who have been the victim of domestic homicide, after its successful introduction in the United States.
I am delighted to be able to make this award to the Anna Freud Centre whose reputation is immense in this field.
“Our aim is to provide targeted investments which have the potential to change the landscape of care given to children and their families. Together, we are hoping that this pioneering work, spearheaded by Yale University in the United States, will be brought here to help children affected by tragedy.
“All the evidence shows that children affected by domestic violence are more likely to go on to repeat the behaviour so it could not be more important that we act to help children both now and for their long term wellbeing, and ultimately break this cycle of violence.
“This is the Foundation’s first award and we hope to be able to support other initiatives in the coming months and years.”
Yesterday (7th June 2015) a team of runners lead by Jo's best friend Hetti took part in The Colour Run to raise funds for the foundation.
The team had great fun on a very hot day and are delighted that so far they have raised almost £1200 for the foundation, equally importantly they raised levels of awareness for JSF and the need for support of children and carers affected by domestic violence and homicide - but most importantly they did it for Jo!
You can still donate using the following link https://mydonate.bt.com/events/jsfcolorrun/220710, all funds will go directly to supporting those affected by domestic violence and homicide.
Hetti said the day was unpredictable, never knowing when, or which colour paint was going to hit them. The team, young and not quite so young, stuck together throughout the race and all agreed that it was a great way to raise awareness and funds.
We hope you enjoy the pictures!
Are airlines doing enough to support their pilots and react better to signs that they are not coping?
Today Hetti Barkworth-Nanton was interviewed on Radio 5 Live discussing the similarities between the cases of Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot that crashed his Germanwings flight sadly killing all on board, and that of BA pilot Rob Brown who tragically murdered Joanna Simpson on 31st October 2010.
Hetti raises the point that are airlines really doing enough to assess their pilots and could they be doing more to support their pilots and react better to signs of somebody not coping.
Huge steps have been taken to address the terrorist threat and now is the time for airlines and the aviation industry as a whole to step up and reassure the public that action is being taken to learn the lessons from these two cases and others to prevent further loss of innocent lives through the actions of a small number of murderous individuals.
You can listen to the interview herehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b05ns61f at 2 hours and 38 minutes into the programme.
Annabel Fawcett finished her first half marathon in just 2 hours and 10 minutes, raising £1000 for Joanna Simpson Foundation
Diana Parkes, Jo’s mother, congratulated Annabel, saying ' I am very proud to have known Annabel for all of her life. I have watched her grow to be a delightful, charming and talented young woman.
Joanna was my daughter and on behalf of the charity we set up in her memory, the Joanna Simpson Foundation, I congratulate Annabel on the fantastic achievement of running in, and completing, the Great
North Run and raising the magnificent sum of £1000. This will go to help our charity care for children whose lives have been effected by domestic homicide.
Thank you so much for sponsoring Annabel. We are very grateful.'
Well done and a Big Thank you Annabel!
It is with immense pride and congratulations that we can announce that Morgan Lake (@morgan-lake) has become a double Junior World Champion this week by getting Gold in both the Heptathlon and High Jump at the World Junior Championships in Oregon, http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/jul/28/morgan-lake-high-jump-gold-world-junior-championships-athletics, securing a World Youth Record in the Heptathlon of 6,148, and clearing 1.93 in the high jump.
For the once in a lifetime opportunity to spend a session with Morgan in training, join us at our Annual Fundraising Ball at Wentworth on the 22nd November where Morgan has kindly donated her time as part of our Live Auction.
I had the pleasure last week of joining the Expert Panel for the IMPROVE research being led out of the Center for Academic Primary Care at Bristol University under the experienced leadership of Professor Gene Feder and Dr Emma Howarth http://www.bristol.ac.uk/primaryhealthcare/researchthemes/improve.html. IMPROVE is an evidence synthesis that will draw together data about the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of existing intervention programmes for children experiencing domestic abuse.
Not only a fantastic opportunity to meet many of those currently dedicated to and delivering services to these children, but also to see many of the challenges currently being experienced.
It’s clear that few studies around the world have been effective in building a strong evidence base of intervention and impact. It’s also clear that the existence of interventions for children isn’t enough, because increasingly these provisions are losing out in the battle for funding from an ever constrained base. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with them ahead of their publication this Autumn, and exploring ways in which JSF can help to address this growing problem.
What was also clear however was that the knowledge of the complex needs of children affected by domestic homicide and a comprehensive understanding of what’s available for them and their carers is hard to come by. If this is the case, imagine what it is like to be one of those carers or children? The answer for many (although every individual's experience is unique) is you muddle through as best you can, often in a state of distress and shock, in a bizarre world that nobody seems to understand, and just hope that the decisions you make and the things you say on a day to day basis are for the best. It’s tough also for those who support them through the police, victim support, and other agencies, who want to help make things as good as they can be, but are limited by what they are aware of.
A day hosted by Professor Peter Kinderman at Liverpool University started to open up these questions. What needs to be done to fully understand the needs of these innocent victims, their experiences, and the way in which policy and law supports and protects them. Dr Emma Davies (Criminal Justice at Liverpool John Moores University, Professor Sandra Walklate (Sociology, Social Policy & Crimonology Liverpool University), started the day. The join up and continuum between children’s needs, provision, social policy and law is ever apparent, and we look forward to supporting them with a grant funding application for future work. In the afternoon we met Dr Matt Gibson, lecturer in Criminal Law at Liverpool University. Understanding the needs of victims as well as defendants in our murder laws and particularly diminished responsibility is often forgotten and the discussion was extremely valuable for all. Starting to explore the possibility of jointly hosting a conference to bring together the diverse stakeholders in this complex area, and we look forward to seeing more detailed proposals very soon!
Building the right partnerships with the academic world is vital if we are to be sure that the right things are addressed and sustainable policy change achieved.
Last week saw the publication of new legal guidance by the CPS on prosecuting Domestic Homicide. An important step, brought about by extensive discussions with us, the family and friends of Joanna Simpson who was killed by her estranged husband in 2010. Despite preparing a grave beforehand, her killer could be acquitted of murder due to diminished responsibility.
What are the changes and why are they important?
This guidance requires far more extensive understanding and consideration of the history of domestic abuse, and critically a thorough investigation into the character of the defendant and the victim. It guards against acceptance of manslaughter pleas using the partial defences of diminished responsibility and loss of self-control. And it requires prosecutors to engage with expert witnesses (typically psychiatrists) on the broader profile of the defendant rather than just the psychiatric assessment of the defendant through interview.
If properly adopted this will have a significant impact on the quality of convictions in these crimes. Partial defences are commonly used in domestic homicide (our research showed it being used in 50% of cases). We talk a great deal about there being no excuses for domestic abuse, and yet when the worst happens the law provides exactly that. Of course, there are some great examples of prosecutions where past history and character has been very carefully and effectively considered. There are also examples where circumstances are such that a partial defence is entirely appropriate. This new guidance is designed to ensure those strong examples become the norm, and that partial defences are only used by the most deserving cases.
Partial defences run on the basis that the offender is not somehow responsible, and offenders who use it typically show little remorse and are in fact running a defence which says it was either because of their state of mind or the circumstances, often citing the character and actions of the victim as the reason for that. A claim of this kind is accepted at plea without a trial in just fewer than 50% of cases. Successful or not, victims families have to suffer trials or plea acceptance which often assassinate the character of the victim, poorly challenged by the prosecution. Where successful they are left with the incomprehensible sense that their loved one has not had a fair trial and the perpetrator has literally got away with murder. Our research showed that ¼ of all convicted offenders was successful in a defence of this kind.
And what of disposal? The discount in tariff can be substantial and it is not unusual for those convicted of manslaughter to be released from custody within 5 years of the crime. Sometimes they get a hospital order and come under the mental health tribunal process, and again it is not unusual for them to be released within 3 years. It is notable to understand that where the perpetrator is the parent of bereaved children, they still retain parental rights. The repercussions continue when the family courts look on access requests more favorably where the offender was found not guilty to murder.
So tightening the criminal justice system through this guidance to avoid exploitation of the loopholes in homicide is fundamental if we believe we should send the message that domestic abuse is unacceptable, if we want to give victims’ families the chance to find a way forward, and critically if we want to protect the innocent child victims who live in fear of a violent perpetrator and deserve time to grow and repair in peace.
For Immediate Publication
May 20th, 2014
DOMESTIC HOMICIDE campaigners have welcomed a change in Crown Prosecution Service policy after a new guidance note was issued following meetings with a victim's family lobbying.
The campaign team from the Joanna Simpson Foundation welcomed the news and declared the measure a ‘huge step in the right direction’ for victims' families.
The Foundation has been campaigning for changes that improve the way the CPS handles prosecutions of cases of domestic homicide.
The Foundation was set up in the memory of Joanna Brown whose killer was convicted of manslaughter despite digging a grave ahead of the attack and burying her body in Windsor Great Park. Her killer claimed diminished responsibility and the trial deteriorated into a trial of character of both the accused and his victim.
Hetti Barkworth Nanton, Chair of the Foundation commented: “I am delighted that the CPS has taken this important step forward to strengthen the way domestic violence homicide trials are carried out.
Together with Diana Parkes, Jo’s mother and Patron of the Foundation, we have been campaigning for more than 2 years and met with senior members of the judiciary, MPs, prosecutors, and the police, to press for a serious review of the way such prosecutions are managed.
As the family and friends of Joanna we were all made to suffer twice, first through the deadly attack and secondly in a traumatic court case.
Although nothing can bring Jo back, we have decided to honour her name by campaigning to try and prevent other people suffering as we had to. This is a huge step in the right direction.
We will continue to campaign to reform our outdated murder laws and raise funds to support programmes which help children who have suffered at the hands of domestic abuse."
Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “In some cases of homicide linked to domestic violence, the defence will seek to avoid a conviction for murder by distorting the truth about the character of the victim and defendant. Prosecutors should always challenge these attempts and this new guidance will help ensure that they are fully prepared to do so.
The Crown Prosecution Service is ready to listen to the concerns of those whose lives have been affected by crime and I am grateful to the family and friends of Joanna Simpson for raising this important issue. This dialogue has led to changes in our guidance to help prosecutors meet the challenges in these cases.”
The revised guidance can be found on the CPS website.