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RCN guidance aims to help nurses protect domestic abuse survivors' ability to vote

Guidance explains how nurses and midwives can attest to an individual's right to be anonymous on the electoral roll

RCN guidance gives advice on how nurses can attest to the right to be anonymous on the electoral register

Electoral register
Since March, nurses can legally authenticate a person's request to be anonymously registered to vote.
Picture: Alamy

Guidance for nurses on supporting people who have experienced domestic abuse to exercise their right to vote is published today.

The law changed in March to allow nurses and midwives who are supporting survivors of domestic abuse to authenticate requests for anonymity on the electoral register.

Anonymous registration helps individuals whose safety, or that of people living with them, would be at risk if their name or address was listed on the public document.

Attestation

RCN professional lead for midwifery and women's health Carmel Bagness said: 'Ensuring people can vote safely should be a priority for everyone.

'Nurses and midwives are now in a better position to support survivors of domestic abuse in accessing this right, by attesting someone’s request for anonymity on the voting register. This requires training – nurses and midwives must be prepared and feel competent to carry out their role.'

Safeguarding and protection

Ms Bagness nurses' and midwives' responsibilities for safeguarding vulnerable groups involved acting on concerns about individuals who may be at risk and contacting their safeguarding lead, as necessary.

According to the Office for National Statistics, an estimated 1.9 million people aged between 16 and 59 experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2017 in England and Wales.

National domestic abuse charity SafeLives chief executive Suzanne Jacob said: 'We know that four out of five victims of domestic abuse won’t call the police and nurses and midwives are well placed to identify abuse and support victims to access help.

'For too long, the right to participate in our democracy has been one of the many rights that can be taken from a person by a perpetrator of domestic abuse. We hope this guidance will support nurses and midwives to empower victims and survivors of abuse to regain their right to be heard.'


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