Landmark Domestic Abuse Bill

Issue: On 2 October 2019, the Domestic Abuse Bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons.

 

  • Too many people’s lives are being ripped apart because of physical, emotional or economic abuse. Last year, 2 million adults in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse.

 

  • Protecting victims, as well as supporting survivors, is at the heart of our strengthened response to this horrific crime. Our Domestic Abuse Bill and wider package of measures will bolster the protection for victims and will help expose and bring the vile abusers to justice.

 

  • We need to build a society that has zero tolerance towards domestic abuse and actively empowers victims, communities and professionals to confront and challenge it.

 

We are doing this by:

 

  • Introducing the first ever statutory definition of domestic abuse. This will recognise that abuse can take many different forms – including psychological, physical, sexual, economic and emotional.

 

  • Piloting polygraph testing of domestic abuse perpetrators. High-risk domestic abuse offenders could face mandatory lie-detector tests when released from prison.

 

  • Establishing a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to drive the response to domestic abuse. They will stand up for victims, monitor the provision of domestic abuse services and hold the government to account.

 

  • Prohibiting the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts. It is estimated that there are 11,000 cases each year which may be affected by this new provision.

 

  • Introducing Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders. The former will provide immediate protection following an incident, while the latter will provide longer-term protection.

 

  • Making 120 additional commitments to tackle domestic abuse. This includes £8 million of Home Office funding to support children and additional for services for disabled, elderly and LGTB victims.

 

  • Rolled out Clare’s Law nationally to protect people from potentially abusive situations. This allows the police to disclose information about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts.

 

Third party endorsements:

 

  • Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge, said: ‘This Bill represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address domestic violence’.

 

  • Suzanne Jacob OBE, Chief Executive of SafeLives: ‘The new change in approach reflects what hundreds of survivors told SafeLives they wanted – we’re pleased the Government is listening’.

 

Q: Will the Bill fall when Parliament is prorogued?

At the conclusion of this Session of Parliament, if proceedings on the Domestic Abuse Bill have not yet been completed, they shall be resumed in the next session.