The Domestic Abuse Bill, which has received Royal Assent and which is to be implemented during this year, has been designed to tackle perpetrators more effectively.
Home Secretary Priti Patel says: ‘This landmark act will transform the support we offer across society. This includes the support Government provides to victims to ensure they have the protection they rightly need, so that perpetrators of these abhorrent crimes are brought to justice.’
Sue Andrews, family partner and practice group leader, B P Collins, welcomes the Bill saying:
“It can be very difficult for someone who has experienced abuse persistently and regularly to realise that this is what is actually happening. It is also common for them to take the blame for their abuse.
“On the back of this important legislation, I hope there will be a wider awareness that abusive behaviour is completely wrong, against the law; and people shouldn’t have to put up with it in any relationship.
“Hopefully a person suffering from abuse will now be taken much more seriously when they try to seek help and their friends and family will recognise the signs of abuse more easily and be able to support them.
“It is also hoped that this Bill will help a perpetrator to recognise that their abuse is unacceptable and criminal; and will seek help to address their behaviour. The provision of all remedies under ‘one roof’ rather than a mismatch of solutions from a range of different sources is also welcomed.”
According to the government the measures introduced in the Act include:
- a wider-ranging legal definition of domestic abuse beyond physical violence, including emotional, coercive or controlling behaviour, and economic abuse
- abusers will no longer be allowed to directly cross-examine their victims in the family and civil courts, and victims will have better access to special measures in the courtroom to help prevent intimidation – such as protective screens and giving evidence via video link
- providing police with new powers including Domestic Abuse Protection Notices to provide victims with immediate protection from abusers
- enabling courts to hand out new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to help prevent offending by forcing abusers to take steps to change their behaviour
- a new offence of non – fatal strangulation, extending an offence to cover the threat to disclose intimate images, and clarifying the law to further clamp down on claims of “rough sex gone wrong” in cases involving death or serious injury
- extending the controlling or coercive behaviour offence to cover post-separation abuse
- explicitly recognise children as victims if they see, hear or experience the effects of abuse
- establish in law the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and set out the Commissioner’s functions and powers
- placing a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation
- provide that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance