Domestic violence overhaul promises more action for victims
The government has launched long-awaited domestic violence legislation to provide more support and services for domestic violence victims, and has put forward measures to the definition of domestic abuse to include non-violent, toxic behaviour.
“Home should be a place of safety and love, but for two million people that is not the case,” Crime Minister Victoria Atkins told Good Morning Britain.
“The purpose of this bill is to define domestic abuse really clearly… because we know from speaking to victims and survivors, that very often if there is any violence, there is a whole pattern of behaviour leading up to the violence.”
As a part of this new legislation, the government will implement:
Lie detector tests for high-risk domestic abuse offenders when they are released from prison.
A ban on abusers cross-examining their victims in family court.
Clare’s Law - named after Clare Wood who was murdered by her partner George Appleton. This allows people to check with police whether their partners have a past of domestic abuse.
New Domestic Abuse Protection Orders, to force offenders to attend rehab programs if they have a drug or alcohol problem.
“Domestic abuse can include non-violent offences as well,” Ms Atkins said.
“It can involve degradation, humiliation, wearing down of the victim.”
However, recent reports have shown police have not properly enforced punishments for abusers who fall into this category.
Of the 4,200 complaints across England and Wales last year in regards to non-violent abuse, less than 10 per cent resulted in prosecutions, with even less in convictions.
Ms Atkins said: “Some areas are frankly better than others. We know that some police forces have better training for their officers.”
“One of the 120 commitments we’re making alongside this bill is to improve training for the police, but not just the police - other frontline workers who may come in contact with victims and survivors.”
As a result, the government plans to roll out training across job centres and health services as well, so professionals can spot the signs of domestic violence early, and provide the victims with help.
Ms Atkins said: “We want to encourage people to recognise the many forms of domestic abuse. And it can range from the perpetrator controlling the use of the victim's’ phone, to taking her car keys away, and so on.”
“The purpose of this bill is for us to say to victims: ‘the help is there, we really want to sort this out’.”