Domestic Abuse Conference held in Welwyn Garden City

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:02 09 April 2019

The Welwyn Hatfield Domestic Abuse Forum at the Domestic Abuse Conference in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Welwyn Hatfield Council

The Welwyn Hatfield Domestic Abuse Forum at the Domestic Abuse Conference in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Welwyn Hatfield Council

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A domestic abuse conference for Welwyn Hatfield, Hertsmere and St Albans included an award in memory of a former council leader.

Welwyn Hatfield Domestic Abuse Forum chair Sharon Montgomery at the Domestic Abuse Conference in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Welwyn Hatfield CouncilWelwyn Hatfield Domestic Abuse Forum chair Sharon Montgomery at the Domestic Abuse Conference in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Welwyn Hatfield Council

The Annual Domestic Abuse Conference, which represents domestic abuse forums across all three districts, was held at Campus West in Welwyn Garden City.

This year a new award was given out in memory of Mandy Perkins, the late leader of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, who was an advocate for the forum and was its vice chair for several years.

The Mandy Perkins Memorial Award was 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 people affected by domestic abuse.

At the conference, Mandy’s husband David presented the award to Chief Insp Sally Phillips and DI Andrea Dalton for their work in leading the investigation into the domestic abuse suffered by Welwyn Garden City mum Kellie Sutton, who subsequently took her own life. The investigation resulted in Kellie’s former boyfriend Stephen Gane being convicted for coercive control, ABH and assault.

The late Welwyn Hatfield Council leader Mandy Perkins. Picture: WHCThe late Welwyn Hatfield Council leader Mandy Perkins. Picture: WHC

The runner-up for the award was Leonie Maddin, who developed workshops for schools as a volunteer for Herts Young Homeless. These included a workshop on consent and sexting, to make young people more aware of the importance of healthy relationships.

As part of the day’s theme, ‘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. Other speakers also examined the impact of domestic abuse on young people, with topics including housing and life in refuge shelters.

Welwyn Hatfield Domestic Abuse Forum chair Sharon Montgomery 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.

“Today, with our focus on young people, talking about and understanding what a healthy relationship is, is key. We also need to get the message out that there are many ways of getting both emotional and practical support such as housing.”

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