The landmark Domestic Abuse Bill received Royal Assent on April 29 strengthening measures to tackle domestic abuse and giving police new powers to protect victims.
For the first time there is a definition of domestic abuse which includes offences beyond physical violence, including emotional, coercive or controlling behaviour, and economic abuse.
Domestic Abuse Protection Notices will provide victims with immediate protection from abusers, while courts will be able to hand out new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to help prevent offending by forcing perpetrators to take steps to change their behaviour, including seeking mental health support or drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Other measures in the Act include:
- Extending the controlling or coercive behaviour offence to cover post-separation abuse; and
- Explicitly recognising children as victims if they see, hear or experience the effects of abuse.
Abusers will no longer be allowed to directly cross-examine their victims in the family and civil courts, and giving victims better access to special measures in the courtroom to help prevent intimidation – such as protective screens and giving evidence via video link.
Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said the law will “transform the response” to tackling domestic abuse and Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The Domestic Abuse Act is long overdue. 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.”
Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said: “This landmark piece of legislation steps up the response to domestic abuse at every level – giving victims more support than ever before while ensuring perpetrators feel the full force of the law.”
Only time will tell whether the new Act will have the hoped-for effect on the ground.
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The above is accurate as at 6 May 2021. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.