The landmark Domestic Abuse Act has received Royal Assent. Holland Family Law is delighted with this news and wanted to share what it means for those suffering domestic abuse.
UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said:
“This landmark act will transform the support we offer across society,”
and Holland Family Law agree.
What is the Domestic Abuse Act?
The Domestic Abuse Act has been created to give domestic abuse sufferers greater protections and to increase the measures available to deal with those inflicting abuse. The legislation is long overdue, but will ensure that perpetrators of abhorrent domestic abuse crimes are brought to justice.
What measures are included in the Domestic Abuse Act?
- A broader legal definition of domestic abuse, extending to abuse beyond physical violence – including coercive and controlling behaviour.
- The withdrawal of abusers being able to cross-examine their victims in family and civil courts across England and Wales.
- The establishment in law of the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and an outline of the Commissioner’s functions and powers.
- Better access to special measures for victims in the courtroom to prevent intimidation.
- New powers for the police, including Domestic Abuse Protection Notices, which will provide abuse sufferers with immediate protection from their abuser.
- Enabling courts to issue Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to prevent offending by forcing perpetrators to change their behaviour.
- Amendments proposed earlier in 2021, which include the creation of a new offence known as non-fatal strangulation, and the widening of revenge porn laws.
- Imposing a legal duty on councils across England to provide services and support such as advocacy, counselling and therapy in safe locations.
- Ensuring that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance.
- Placing the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s law’) on a statutory footing.
One of the key features of the Domestic Abuse Act is that children will also be recognised as abuse sufferers for the first time. This means that children who see, hear or experience the effects of abuse, and are related to the person being abused or the perpetrator, will be regarded as a domestic abuse sufferer too.
Domestic Abuse Bill welcomed
The passing of the Domestic Abuse Bill has been widely welcomed by family lawyers and organisations supporting vulnerable women, children and men facing abuse.
However, despite the passing of the Bill, some have warned the success of the Domestic Abuse Act hinges on the specialist support that is available to help sufferers recover and rebuild their lives from the trauma they have faced. The Domestic Abuse Bill has been hailed as a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to tackle the UK’s response to domestic abuse, but while it ticks many boxes, the Domestic Abuse Act does have some holes, according to some.
Who doesn’t the Domestic Abuse Act protect?
One of those gaps is the lack of protection for migrants suffering domestic abuse. Immigrant advocacy groups have expressed their dismay at the lack of protection for migrants coming forward to report abuse.
A register for serial domestic abusers and stalkers was also rejected by the government, with many organisations who support women arguing that more could have been done by the Bill to tackle offenders who repeatedly abuse their victims.
The impact of the Domestic Abuse Bill remains to be seen, but for many, it is seen as a positive step forward in dealing with the ‘plague of domestic abuse’ especially with cases rising significantly amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Holland Family Law are here to help with the legal advice you need to escape your abuser and ensure your future safety. We are discreet, offering reliable advice and support.
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 or head to your nearest pharmacy and look for an ‘Ask for Ani’ display.