Two years after the government first published its commitment to making positive changes to victims of domestic abuse, the response has been published as a draft Domestic Abuse Bill.
The consultation on domestic abuse asked questions on how 4 main objectives could be achieved and the government response looks at how to:
- Promote and raise awareness, both public and professional.
- Protect, support and keep victims safe.
- Transform the justice process in both criminal and family courts with the victim at the heart of it but also with a view to rehabilitating the offender.
- Improve the response to domestic abuse in all areas.
The draft Domestic Abuse Bill will deal with 9 issues that require a change in the law to achieve the above objectives. I have set out some of them below. I have chosen not to refer to the more technical measures here.
Listed below are some of the changes the public can expect to see before too long:
- A statutory definition of domestic abuse to specifically include economic abuse, as well as controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse.
- The establishment of the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner.
- New forms of Protection Notices and Orders.
- The prohibition of perpetrators of domestic and other forms of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in the family courts (and prevent victims from having to cross-examine their abusers) and giving the court discretion to prevent cross-examination in person.
- Enabling polygraph testing of high risk offenders as a condition of their licence following their release from custody
- Local authorities granting a new secure tenancy to a social tenant (as a result of domestic abuse issues) who had or has a secure lifetime or assured tenancy must grant a secure lifetime tenancy
This is certainly a positive step forward, as there are so many people experiencing forms of abuse that do not take on a physical form, but can be just as damaging for the victims.
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The above is accurate as at 21 January 2019. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.