Domestic Abuse Conference themed on Young People

The annual Domestic Abuse Conference, representing the Welwyn Hatfield, Hertsmere and St Albans Domestic Abuse Forums, took place at Campus West earlier today (28 March).

Domestic Abuse Forum

The conference included a new award given out in memory of the late leader of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Mandy Perkins. Mandy had been a passionate advocate of the forum and had been its Vice Chair for a number of years. The Mandy Perkins Memorial Award has been introduced to recognise an organisation, group or person who has gone the extra mile to make the borough a safer or more supportive place for those affected by domestic abuse.


Mandy's husband David presented the award at the start of the conference to Chief Inspector Sally Phillips and DI Andrea Dalton, for their work in leading the investigation into the domestic abuse suffered by Welwyn Garden City mum Kelly Sutton, who subsequently took her own life. DI (Now CI) Sally Phillips and DS (Now DI) Andrea Dalton led the investigation by Herts Constabulary's Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit (DAISU), which resulted in the conviction of Kellie's former boyfriend Stephen Gane for Coercive Control, ABH and Assault, and a jail term. It's the first time in the UK that someone had been convicted of Coercive Control following the death of a victim.


The runner up of the award was Leonie Maddin, who, as a volunteer for Herts Young Homeless, has been instrumental in developing different core workshops for schools, including 'consent - sexting', to bring awareness to young people about the importance of healthy relationships.


The theme of the day was 'Young People - We're Victims too'. The conference heard the testimony of 19 year old Leah, who was the victim of domestic abuse by her boyfriend when she was 18. Many of speakers throughout the event examined the impact of domestic abuse on young people, with topics such as: 'Housing - the Impact for Young People' and 'Life in Refuge for Young People'.


Sharon Montgomery, Chair of Welwyn Hatfield Domestic Abuse Forum, said:

The recent conviction for coercive behaviour should give confidence to victims up and down the country that they can report such crimes and something will be done. I think Mandy would have been proud of the recipients of her memorial award.


Coming together in this way at the conference enables many local charities, volunteer groups and agencies to share ideas and best practice. Today, with our focus on young people, talking about and understanding what a healthy relationship is is key, as we've heard with Leah's story. We also need to get the message out that there are many ways of getting both emotional and practical support such as housing.


The confidential Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Line offers callers affected by domestic violence and abuse a supportive response, detailed referral information and access to a range of support agencies. The helpline number is 08 088 088 088, open 9am - 9pm Monday to Friday, and 9am - 4pm at weekends.


Face-to-face advice is available from the Sunflower drop-in at Gracemead House in Hatfield, every Tuesday from 9.15am to 11am.