The Government has introduced an enhanced version of the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill to Parliament. This Bill goes even further to support and protect victims and punish perpetrators. It is the most comprehensive package ever to tackle this horrendous crime and has been widely welcomed by charities and stakeholders.
It includes new measures that place a legal duty on local authorities in England to provide support and ensure safe accommodation for victims and their children. The bill will also ban abusers from cross-examining their victims in all family proceedings where there is evidence of domestic abuse.
It will introduce Domestic Abuse Protection Orders and Protection Notices to protect victims and offer flexible, longer term protection by imposing requirements on abusers. The Government has also announced that it will fund any court costs for police applying for these orders under the pilot, ensuring costs will not be a barrier to police implementing them.
The bill has also been designed to be ‘future-proof’ from any new ways abusers try to control victims, encompassing ‘tech abuse’, where abusers use personal and home devices and smart gadgets to control their victim. This is particularly important, given that figures show that almost three-quarters of victims have been abused through technology, according to figures from the charity Refuge. Economic abuse, such as the limiting access to fundamental economic resources will also be specifically referenced in the definition of domestic abuse.
Finally, since the Bill was first announced in the last Parliament, the Government has appointed Nicole Jacobs to be the Domestic Abuse Commissioner. She has already begun her work championing victims and monitoring UK legislation, including looking at what support the Government can provide children who have been affected by domestic abuse.