Government Unveils New Domestic Abuse Legislation
On Monday the government unveiled its new strategy to tackle domestic abuse.
The new measures are:
- Introducing the first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse, which will include economic abuse
- Establishing the office of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and setting out the Commissioner’s functions and powers
- Providing for a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order
- Prohibiting offenders of abuse from directly cross-examining their victims in person in the family courts, and also giving the court discretion to prevent cross-examination in person where it would diminish the quality of the witness’ evidence or cause the witness significant distress
- Creating a statutory presumption that complainants of an offence involving behaviour which amounts to domestic abuse are eligible for special measures in the criminal courts
- Ensuring that where a local authority, for reasons connected with domestic abuse, grants a new secure tenancy to a social tenant who had or has a secure lifetime or assured tenancy (other than an assured shorthold tenancy) this must be a secure lifetime tenancy
While we will have to await the passage of the bill through parliament to see the final package, one thing of particular note for criminal lawyers is the proposal to create a Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order.
This will be based on the existing regime for criminal behaviour orders (formerly known as ASBOs). Breach of these orders will carry imprisonment of up to 5 years.
What we have seen over the years is the specific tailoring of the framework to meet particular problems (in terrorism and trafficking for example). We can, therefore, expect the effect of these orders to impact quickly, resulting in stiff prison sentences for those who breach them. The government estimates that hundreds more offenders may face imprisonment each year due to the new domestic abuse legtislation.
We do however foresee some real problems. Domestic abuse is a particularly complex societal problem, relationships are often problematic and rocky, and it is possible that breach will be used as a ‘weapon’ against many defendants. It will, therefore, be imperative to ensure that recipients of these orders understand the severe impacts and consequences that will follow. It will also be essential to ensure that orders are only made in appropriate cases.
How Tuckers Solicitors can help you…
To discuss anything to do with the new domestic abuse legislation please contact us on 020 7388 8333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly assist.
Our offices are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ready to deliver immediate and expert legal advice and representation.