The Domestic Abuse Bill (‘the Bill’) has been recently re-introduced to Parliament on 3rd March 2020. It has been established that there is a need to raise awareness on the impact domestic abuse has on a victim and their family, with over 2.4 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experiencing domestic abuse from March 2018 to March 2019. The Bill will allow the justice system to improve protection for the victims of domestic abuse and to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
The Bill in draft was originally introduced in January 2019 in response to a public consultation called ‘Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse’. The Bill unfortunately fell with the dissolution of Parliament. The government in December 2019 was elected with a manifesto commitment to ‘support all victims of domestic abuse and pass the Domestic Abuse Bill’. The Bill has now been re-introduced with some changes putting further importance on local authorities’ duties to help victims of domestic abuse.
The Bill is set to introduce a wide range of measures which include:
- A duty to be placed on local authorities in England to ensure that support is provided to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation.
- Perpetrators will be prohibited from cross-examining their victims in person in the family courts in England and Wales.
- Introduction of Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order to replace the previous Orders and Notices to give the Police wider powers to keep perpetrators away.
- The creation of a statutory presumption that victims are eligible for special measures in the criminal courts.
- High risk Domestic abuse offenders may be subject to polygraph testing as a condition of their licence following their release from custody.
- The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s Law’) guidance will have a statutory footing.
- Local authorities will be under a duty to grant a tenant who has sustained domestic abuse a new secure tenancy if they had or have a secure lifetime or assured tenancy.
- And, there will be an extension of further violent and sexual offences to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland jurisdictions.
These measures will provide further protection for the victims of domestic abuse and ensure support is available.
If you would like advice in relation to domestic abuse or any legal issue relating to children or family matters, please contact 0117 904 5958 and ask to speak to our expert Carol Chrisfield.