Domestic Abuse Bill Becomes Law
The Domestic Abuse Bill is a truly far-reaching and long overdue change in how domestic abuse will be dealt with in the future, providing protection to millions of people who experience domestic abuse. It received Royal Assent on 29 April 2021 and is now signed into law.
This revolutionary Bill could transform the way domestic abuse is seen by our society, and how it is dealt with by the police and the courts. The new domestic abuse bill sets out to create a zero-tolerance approach towards domestic abuse and brings in wide-spread protections and new powers to tackle it.
What is its aim?
The Domestic Abuse Act will be applicable in England and Wales and aims to provide the following:
- A wide-ranging legal definition of domestic abuse;
- Further support and protection for those affected by domestic abuse;
- Development of the effectiveness of the justice system; and
- To ensure that perpetrators of domestic abuse are brought to justice.
What Is The Domestic Abuse Bill & What does it provide?
The definition of abusive behaviour includes violent, threatening, controlling or coercive behaviour as well as physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, economic or other abuse. This is the first time economic abuse has been addressed as “domestic abuse”,and “controlling or coercive behaviour” is extended to cover post-separation abuse. Recent additions have seen non-fatal strangulation added, to deal with previous attempts to defend injury/death referencing “rough sex gone wrong” as a consensual act, and deals with threats to disclose intimate images (“revenge porn”).
- Children of abused parties are explicitly recognised as victims of abuse if they see, hear or experience the effects of abuse.
- New Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders are created, giving the police and the courts respectively extra powers of protection of victims of abuse.
- Domestic Abuse Protection Notices can be issued by the police if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a person has been abusive to a person whom they are personally connected with. The abusive behaviour need not have taken place in England and Wales and it can apply even after a relationship has ended.
- Domestic Abuse Protection Orders can be made by courts within family, criminal or civil proceedings without an application being made. A new range of orders can be imposed, including forcing perpetrators to seek mental health support or drug/alcohol rehabilitation. & the courts can order electronic monitoring, prohibition of contact to the person being protected, and banning them from a specified distance or from entering, evicting or excluding that person from an address.
- An arrest without warrant will be imposable for a breach of a Protection Notice with imprisonment and/or a fine being given for breach of a Protection Order.
- Abusers will no longer be entitled to directly cross-examine their victims in family and civil courts.
- There is a requirement for councils to properly fund refuges, giving victims of abuse a “priority need” for accommodation.
The introduction of the Domestic Abuse Act provides hope for those suffering from abuse, at long last. Will it transform society’s approach to and understanding of the far-reaching effects which abuse can have, and the many forms it takes? Only time will tell.
Our family law solicitors are experienced in handling every kind of family issue and will help you to understand the legal processes, using clear, easy-to-understand language. Contact us today for expert advice.