Welcome to another week.
The Domestic Abuse Bill, which includes a raft of measures to protect victims of domestic violence, was signed into law on April 29, and is the first piece of legislation to acknowledge children as victims of such abuse.
It is also the first time a wide-ranging legal definition of domestic abuse has been set down, which includes physical violence; emotional, coercive or controlling behaviour; and economic abuse.
In the government’s press release for the announcement, 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.
Thanks to the many survivors, charities, parliamentarians and colleagues from across government who have worked tirelessly to make this possible, more vulnerable people and families will be protected from the scourge of domestic abuse.”
Measures in the new Act include:
- extending the controlling or coercive behaviour offence to cover post-separation abuse
- explicitly recognise children as victims if they see, hear or experience the effects of abuse
- establish in law the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and set out the Commissioner’s functions and powers
- placing a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation
- ensuring that abusers will no longer be allowed to directly cross-examine their victims in the family and civil courts in England and Wales
- giving victims better access to special measures in the courtroom to help prevent intimidation
- provide that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance
- place the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (“Clare’s law”) on a statutory footing