Last week, on 29th April, the Domestic Abuse Bill received royal assent. The Domestic Abuse Bill will provide protection to millions of victims of domestic abuse and strengthen measures to tackle the perpetrators of domestic abuse. The government have worked closely with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and domestic abuse charities to make key changes to the Bill. New measures introduced under the Act include:
- Providing a broader definition inclusive of abuse beyond physical violence including emotional, coercive and controlling behaviour and economic abuse
- Abusers will no longer be allowed to cross examine their victims in Family and Civil courts across both England and Wales
- Victims will receive better access to special measures in the courtroom in order to prevent intimidation for example providing evidence via video link or the use of protective screening
- Police will have new powers to provide victims with immediate protection from perpetrators under Domestic Abuse Protection Notices
- The courts can impose Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to help prevent domestic abuse. Offenders will have to take steps to change their behaviour, this will include drug or alcohol rehabilitation and seeking support for mental health issues
- Local authorities across England will have a legal duty to provide therapy, advocacy and counselling in safe accommodation to victims and their children
- Children will be recognised as victims if they experience the effects of domestic abuse
- Eligible homeless victims will have priority need for homelessness assistance
- Non-fatal strangulation as a new offence and the widening of revenge porn laws, making the threat to disclose intimate images an offence
- Place guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare's Law) on a statutory footing.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "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."
Gill Carr, Family Partner "This has been a long awaited and backed by multiple frontline services and small organisations. The changes strengthen the legislation, they incorporate statutory duties on local authorities to provide assistance to victims and their children. The community based services from the local authority include therapy, advocacy and counselling in safe accommodation. This is welcome news given the relief available and vital support for victims which has been impacted upon by the covid-19 pandemic."
Sources: Domestic Abuse Bill Receives Royal Assent
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