The government has launched a consultation on domestic abuse, seeking new laws and stronger powers to protect and support survivors. The consultation launched by the Prime Minister Theresa May, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Justice Secretary David Gauke, will seek views on measures to be included in the government’s draft Domestic Abuse Bill. The new approach includes new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to shield victims against further abuse by enabling courts to impose a range of conditions on abusers. These could be compulsory alcohol treatment, attending a programme to address their underlying attitudes or addictions, and using electronic tagging to monitor them. Under the proposals, breaching the order would become a criminal offence.
The government has also proposed the creation of a statutory aggravating factor in sentencing, similar to those already in law for hate crimes, for domestic abuse to toughen sentences when it involves or affects a child, and the creation of a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to hold the government to account. Economic abuse will be recognised for the first time as a type of domestic abuse, covering controlling circumstances in which victims have finances withheld, are denied access to employment or transport, or are forced to take out loans and enter into other financial contracts. Our recognition will improve understanding among frontline professionals, law enforcement officers and prosecutors so we can take action more quickly and effectively to better support victims.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “This year we celebrated the centenary of achieving votes for women in this country, and today we recognise International Women’s Day. But while we have made great strides towards equality and opportunities for women, the fact there are still thousands of people suffering from domestic abuse shows how much work we still have to do. “Domestic abuse takes many forms, from physical and sexual abuse, to controlling and coercive behaviour that isolates victims from their families and has long-term, shattering impacts on their children. The consultation we are launching …. includes a number of proposals which have the potential to completely transform the way we tackle domestic abuse, providing better protection to victims and bringing more perpetrators to justice. “We know that domestic abuse affects those from all walks of life. Victims can be young and old, male and female, and I hope as many people as possible will come forward to give us their views and share their experiences, as we seek to put an end to this abhorrent crime for good.”