Domestic Abuse Bill
The landmark Domestic Abuse Bill passed both Houses of Parliament on the 29th of April and has been signed into law. This historic piece of legislation which has now received royal assent means that, for the first time in history, there will be a wide-ranging legal definition of domestic abuse and will provide further protections to the millions of victims of domestic abuse and will strengthen measures to tackle perpetrators.
These new legislative definitions of domestic abuse will now incorporate a range of abuses beyond physical violence. These will include emotional, coercive, or controlling behaviour, and economic abuse. The long–awaited bill includes important new protections and support for victims. It also ensures that abusers will no longer be able to directly cross-examine their victims in the family and civil courts. Victims will also be given better access to special measures in the courtroom to prevent intimidation – such as protective screens and giving evidence via video link.
Courts and Police have also been given additional new powers, including the ability to sanction Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders.
Some of the measures that have been included in the act include:
- 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
- place the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (“Clare’s law”) on a statutory footing
The government has also added new measures to the bill over recent weeks to further strengthen the law. These include creating a new offence of non-fatal strangulation and extending an offence to cover the threat to disclose intimate images.
The Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, said about the bill:
“Today marks an historic moment for victims and survivors of domestic abuse when change is needed the most.”
“The act sets out my legal powers which I will use to support all victims across England and Wales by first tackling the ‘postcode lottery’ of services.”
“So many campaigners, charities and individuals have worked incredibly hard to make the bill as robust as possible and there is no doubt that the legislation, which now includes non-fatal strangulation as a standalone offence, is much stronger as a result.”
“Legislation won’t transform things overnight and we know there is more to do, so and I will work with partners to advocate for further changes.”
Specialist Family Law Solicitors
The specialist domestic abuse solicitors at Larcomes have the knowledge and expertise required to deal with sensitive domestic violence cases. We understand the sensitive nature of these situations and will be on hand to get you the legal advice you need. Regardless of the complexity of your case, our solicitors in Portsmouth and Waterlooville, have the knowledge, empathy and expertise to help.
Remember you can talk to us in complete confidence and gain reassurance from speaking to someone who understands your situation.
However, if you find yourself in danger; we urge you to contact the police. If you call the police but you feel it is too dangerous to talk, by pressing ‘55’ after calling the emergency services, the police will still respond. Silent solution 55 is the name given to the initiative that allows people to call 999 even when they are not able to speak. This will mean that the call will still be put through to the police and they will be notified that you are in a situation that makes talking or whispering difficult.