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Tragedy shooting mother’s bid to help victims of violence

PUBLISHED: 18:08 30 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:45 16 August 2010

Undated family handout photo of Claire Bernal.

Undated family handout photo of Claire Bernal.

THE mother of a woman shot dead by an ex-boyfriend in front of colleagues at Harvey Nichols is campaigning for more family justice centres to prevent further deaths. Clare Bernal, 22, whose father is from Orpington, was killed in the Knightsbridge store

THE mother of a woman shot dead by an ex-boyfriend in front of colleagues at Harvey Nichols is campaigning for more family justice centres to prevent further deaths.

Clare Bernal, 22, whose father is from Orpington, was killed in the Knightsbridge store in September 2005 by stalker Michael Pech, 30, following a brief relationship.

He then turned the gun on himself.

At a conference in Croydon, held last Thursday and Friday, her mother Tricia Bernal, said the specialist centres were vital for saving the lives of women affected by domestic violence because they bring police, social services, risk assessment and solicitors under one roof, enabling them to share information effectively.

She was launching new violence charity CRT with Carol Faruqui, whose daughter Rana was stabbed to death by a former partner in a field while tending to her horse in August 2003.

Mrs Bernal said: "Very often there is no time. Something can be medium to low risk one minute, and then suddenly it accelerates to high risk. We need to really look at how we're going to protect the victim."

The charity's initials come from Clare and Rana, along with Tania Moore who was shot dead in March 2004 by ex-partner Mark Dyche in Derbyshire.

All three women had reported the behaviour of their former partners to the police, and their mothers believe with better techniques and communication their daughters' deaths could have been avoided.

There is currently only one family justice centre in Europe - in Croydon - the London borough with the highest number of reported domestic violence incidents.

The centre claims to have prevented dozens of murders and to have helped 9,500 families in the two years it has been open.

It is based on a successful American model and was developed with help from the San Diego Family Justice Center.

It gives victims and relatives access to a range of facilities including medical and legal services, police officers, doctors, housing providers, benefit advice, children's services and adult education groups from just one location, coordinated by a single body.

According to charity Women's Aid, an average of two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner and one in four will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime.

kattherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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