Specialist 'Victims of Abuse' lawyers at national conference

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Specialist 'Victims of Abuse' lawyers at national conference

26th January 2012

Members of Fentons’ specialist abuse department spent two days meeting representatives from police forces and children’s services across the country this week, when they attended the National Child Protection & Abuse Investigation Conference in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

Partners Deborah Johnson, Mark Hatzer and Angela Dobbs, together with Fentons’ practice development manager and former police officer Jack Wild, were all among the delegates at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)-organised conference. More than 200 people were at the event – entitled "A United Approach to Child Protection" - including senior police officers, members of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, social services and children's services from around the UK.

“This conference gave us a vital platform to discuss how we can better help secure justice for the victims of abuse, both sexual and physical,” said Deborah. “This is an issue about which we are particularly passionate. We are seeing a growing number of clients contacting us who have been abused, recently or historically, and it is hugely important that we are able to provide them the most informed and helpful advice.

“By attending this conference, we are able to meet with those who work at the sharp end of prosecuting criminal cases and enacting safeguarding protocols,” she said. “It allowed us to discuss relevant issues and current guidelines with the people who specialise in helping abuse victims.”

Deborah said many of the points addressed by the team at the conference centred around civil and human rights issues, and what can actually be done to help victims of all kinds of abuse.

“Clearly the number of cases involving trafficking is alarming,” she said. “Many of the victims in those cases speak English only as a second language, making it doubly difficult for them to seek help, while in other cases they can feel so helpless and isolated that they don’t know which way to turn. Public protection issues are hugely important, and specialist teams such as ours are able to assist with any case where the victim has been part of a trafficking case.

“Some abuse victims do still worry that there is no course of action available to them once a criminal case has ended,” said Deborah. “It’s important that we continue to work closely with police and other professional bodies to ensure that the most vulnerable people are always given the most specialist advice.”