Government publishes landmark domestic abuse bill
The landmark draft Domestic Abuse Bill was published earlier today. It is aimed at supporting victims and their families and pursuing offenders after it was revealed domestic abuse issues cost Britain £66 billion a year.
To help tackle the crime, new legislation will:
- Introduce the first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse to specifically include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse - this will enable everyone, including victims themselves, to understand what constitutes abuse and will encourage more victims to come forward
- establish a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to drive the response to domestic abuse issues
- introduce new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders
- prohibit the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts
- provide automatic eligibility for special measures to support more victims to give evidence in the criminal courts.
Prime Minister, Theresa May, said: “Throughout my political career I have worked to bring an end to domestic abuse and support survivors as they take the brave decision to leave their abuser and rebuild their lives.
“We know, from the harrowing experiences of victims and their families, that there is still more to do to stamp out this life-shattering crime and the domestic abuse bill will lead the way in bringing about the changes we need to achieve this.”
The minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said: “I have heard absolutely heartbreaking accounts of victims whose lives have been ripped apart because of physical, emotional or economic abuse they have suffered by someone close to them.
“The draft domestic abuse bill recognises the complex nature of these horrific crimes and puts the needs of victims and their families at the forefront.
“This government is absolutely committed to shining a light on domestic abuse to ensure this hidden crime does not remain in the shadows.”
Katie Ghose, the chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Domestic abuse costs lives and it costs money. It is happening at epidemic levels yet it has been largely hidden behind closed doors. Now is the time to bring it out into the spotlight and address the impact of domestic abuse properly once and for all.
“The domestic abuse bill has the potential to create a step-change in the national response and this must be backed up with sustainable funding for our lifesaving network of specialist support services to make a real difference to survivors’ lives.”
On average the police in England and Wales receive over 100 calls relating to domestic abuse every hour. If you or someone you know is being abused, you aren't alone and there are people who can help. Contact the police or Domestic Abuse Support.