United Kingdom

UK Parliament Introduces Enhanced Domestic Abuse Bill

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Ground-breaking Domestic Abuse Bill to receive First Reading in the House of Commons.

The UK government has set out an enhanced version of the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill to Parliament, which will go even further to support and protect victims and punish perpetrators.

The bill is the most comprehensive package ever to tackle this horrendous crime and has been widely welcomed by charities and stakeholders.

Following through on the pledge to bring the bill back to Parliament, it includes new measures, such as requiring tier one local authorities (county councils and unitary authorities) in England to provide support and ensure safe accommodation for victims and their children. The bill will also improve on the previous pledge to ban abusers from cross-examining their victims in the family courts, to apply to all family proceedings where there is evidence of domestic abuse.

Domestic Abuse Protection Orders and Protection Notices are powerful tools to protect victims immediately and offer flexible, longer-term protection by imposing requirements on perpetrators. This could include prohibiting contact with the victim or forcing a perpetrator into alcohol or drug treatment programmes.

The government has also announced it will fund any court costs for police applying for these Orders under the pilot, ensuring cost will not be a barrier to police implementing this important tool.

The bill’s measures are part of a wider response to tackle crime including recruiting 20,000 additional police officers and offering a record funding settlement to police forces.

An astonishing 2.4 million people in England and Wales have suffered domestic abuse. That is unacceptable, and the reason why it is so important to shine a light on this crime. Home Secretary Priti Patel

The bill has been designed to be future-proof from any new ways perpetrators try to control their victims. It will encompass worrying new trends such as ‘tech abuse’ – where abusers use personal and home devices and smart gadgets to control their victim. Recent figures from the charity Refuge, whose domestic abuse helpline is funded by the Home Office, show that almost three quarters (72%) of people who spoke to them had been abused through technology.

Further to these measures, the government has begun a review into what support can be provided to migrant victims of domestic abuse, in addition to looking at what more can done to stop the so called ‘rough sex’ defence being used by perpetrators in court to attempt to escape justice.

Since the bill was first announced, the government has appointed Nicole Jacobs to be the designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner, who has already begun her important work championing victims and survivors, while constantly monitoring UK legislation to make sure the UK remains a world leader in tackling domestic abuse. This includes looking at what support the government can provide children who have been affected by domestic abuse.