Coming soon: the Domestic Abuse Bill
The recent General Election followed heated debates across Parliament and the media in relation to how to ensure the safety of our country as a whole. However, over the past two years the Government has also placed increasing focus on the safety of individuals suffering violence at home.
Domestic violence is estimated to affect around one in four women, one in six men, and one in five children. It also has more repeat victims than any other crime.
As part of its focus on domestic violence, the Government has placed increasing focus on its policy of ending Violence against Women and Girls (“VAWG”), and also introduced the offence of Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate Family Relationship in December 2015.
The Queen’s Speech 2017 today (21 June) confirmed that legislation will be brought forward to protect the victims of domestic violence and abuse.
Changes will be introduced through a new Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill (the “Bill”).
The stated purpose of the Bill is to “transform our approach to domestic violence and abuse to ensure that victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the knowledge that the state and justice system will do everything it can to both support them and their children, and pursue their abuser.”
In addition the Courts Bill to “modernise the courts system” will introduce measures to put an end to the direct cross examination of domestic violence victims by their alleged perpetrators in the family courts. It will also extend the use of virtual hearings, which will allow victims to participate in trials without having to meet their alleged assailant face-to-face.
The Prime Minister has previously stated that a Conservative government will launch “a relentless drive to help survivors find justice and increase the number of successful prosecutions”.
We will watch with interest to see whether this will be achieved in practice through the provisions of the Bill.
The author of this blog thanks Chloe Kealey, paralegal Criminal Litigation, for her input.
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