Government takes action to tackle domestic abuse

Published 20 March 2018

The government has launched a consultation on proposed new laws which would transform our approach to domestic abuse. The consultation sets out new laws and stronger powers to protect and support survivors.

Tackling domestic violence and abuse is one of this Government’s top priorities, and the Prime Minister Theresa May, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Justice Secretary David Gauke, have announced a wide range of legislative proposals for a landmark draft Domestic Abuse Bill, alongside a package of practical action to tackle the harms caused by domestic abuse and support victims and survivors to rebuild their lives.

In recent years much has been done to improve the response to domestic abuse, including the new offence of ‘Controlling and Coercive Behaviour’, Domestic Violence Protection Orders, and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme. Building on these measures, the government has launched a consultation seeking views on measures to be included in the draft Domestic Abuse Bill.

These include:

  • Potential for the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, known as Clare’s Law, to be enshrined in legislation. This allows police to disclose information about previous violent offending by a new or existing partner, and builds better protection for victims. It has already been rolled out operationally across the country.

  • Proposals to give domestic abuse victims the same status in court as those who have suffered modern slavery or sex offences, so that they would be automatically eligible for the range of special measures available in criminal proceedings, such as giving evidence behind a screen or via video link.

  • Creating a statutory aggravating factor in sentencing, similar to those already in law for hate crimes, for domestic abuse to toughen sentences when it involves or affects a child Creation of a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to hold the government to account.

  • Recognising economic abuse as a type of domestic abuse. This would cover controlling circumstances in which victims have finances withheld, are denied access to employment or transport, or are forced to take out loans and enter into other financial contracts.

Our recognition will improve understanding among frontline professionals, law enforcement officers and prosecutors so we can take action more quickly and effectively to better support victims.

Launching the consultation, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“Domestic abuse takes many forms, from physical and sexual abuse, to controlling and coercive behaviour that isolates victims from their families and has long-term, shattering impacts on their children. The consultation we are launching today includes a number of proposals which have the potential to completely transform the way we tackle domestic abuse, providing better protection to victims and bringing more perpetrators to justice.

“We know that domestic abuse affects those from all walks of life. Victims can be young and old, male and female, and I hope as many people as possible will come forward to give us their views and share their experiences, as we seek to put an end to this abhorrent crime for good.”

Responding to the consultation

We want to hear from those who have been affected by abuse victims and survivors, support organisations and research experts. We are also interested in the views of professionals across policing, criminal justice, health, welfare, education and local authorities who deal with these issues every day. You can find more information on the consultation and submit your responses here.

If you have a concern about someone you know, or someone you are in a relationship with you should contact your police force on 101. You should always dial 999 in an emergency.

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