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Concerns are raised over Government’s proposals for a new Bill on Domestic Violence

The Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) has urged the Government to amend proposals being implemented as part of a new Bill after it heard concerns over how a new Domestic Abuse Commissioner would operate.

The Government’s new approach includes new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to better shield victims against further abuse by enabling courts to impose a range of conditions on abusers. This could be compulsory alcohol treatment, attending programmes to address their attitudes or addictions, and using electronic tagging to monitor the abuser.  Under the proposals, breaching the order would be a criminal offence.

The Government have also proposed the creation of a statutory aggravating factor in sentencing for domestic abuse, similar to those already in place for hate crimes, to toughen sentences when it involves or affects a child, and the creation of a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to hold the government to account. Financial abuse will also 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.

The Government has said that this recognition will improve the understanding among frontline professionals, law enforcement officers and prosecutors so action can be taken more quickly and effectively to better support victims.

However, in the HASC’s latest report published on the 22nd October 2018, the committee suggests that the Government has not gone far enough to completely safeguard domestic abuse victims. The Committee has also urged the Government to make a commitment to put a statutory obligation on local authorities in England and Wales to provide emergency refuge places and to provide more oversight and funding. The committee similarly called for a register for serial stalkers and domestic abusers to be introduced “as a matter of urgency”.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the HASC, said: “Domestic abuse is one of the most dangerous and the most common crimes there is and the Government is rightly proposing new legislation and a new strategy, but our inquiry found much stronger action is needed across the board.”

The Government are clearly taking steps in the right direction but there are growing concerns that the proposed Bill does not go far enough to cover all aspects of domestic abuse and to remedy the consequences that victims suffer.

In the meantime if you have any personal issues that you need advice on then please contact our specialist Family Law Team here at Willsons Solicitors on 02476 387821.







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