Enhanced Re-Introduced Domestic Abuse Bill Receives First Reading

Enhanced Re-Introduced Domestic Abuse Bill Receives First Reading

The radical Domestic Abuse Bill received its first reading at the House of Commons this week.

The Government re-introduced a newer enhanced version of the ground-breaking Domestic Abuse Bill to Parliament on 3rd March which has even greater support and protection for victims and increased punishments for offenders.

The landmark Bill has the most comprehensive measures to confront head on these terrible crimes which has been very much welcomed by charities, family legal industry and stakeholders across the country.

Last year the Domestic Abuse Bill was put back on the shelf during the prorogued parliament and subsequent election in December 2019. However, the Conservative Party’s main promise involved passing the Bill and pledging increased support for victims of domestic and violent abuse. In addition, the party said they would supplement this act by integrating pilot domestic abuse courts which will aim to address criminal and family matters in parallel.

Domestic abuse causes distress and harm and is a very complex area of law which can happen to anyone, even though there has been a reduction in domestic abuse in more recent years, an estimated 5.7% (2.4 million) victims a year (aged 16-74), which are mostly women, in England and Wales have experienced some form of domestic abuse – and suffered at the hands of their abusers.

The Government is on a mission to build a society that will not tolerate domestic abuse at all and wants to give the power back to the victims, communities and professionals to confront and tackle it head on, while providing victims with the support and help they so desperately need.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Victoria Atkins) read out her statement to re-introduce the Bill in the House of Commons by saying:

“This landmark Bill will help better protect and support the victims of domestic abuse and their children and bring perpetrators to justice.

She continued to read out the measures in the Bill which seek to:

  • promote awareness – to put abuse at the top of everyone’s agenda, including by legislating for the first time for a statutory definition of domestic abuse
  • Protect and support victims, including by introducing a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Order
  • transform the justice response, including by helping victims to give their best evidence in the criminal courts through the use of video evidence, screens and other special measures, and ensuring that victims of abuse do not suffer further trauma in family court proceedings by being cross-examined by their abuser
  • improve performance – the new Domestic Abuse Commissioner will help drive consistency and better performance in the response to domestic abuse across all local areas and agencies

She added:

“The Bill was originally introduced in July 2019 having had the benefit of pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of both Houses, chaired by the right hon. Member for Basingstoke (Maria Miller). In the Government’s original response to the Joint Committee’s report (CP 137), we undertook to publish a further response addressing the outstanding recommendations; the Government have today published this further response alongside the re-introduction of the Bill (CP 214). Copies of the further response will be available from the Vote Office and it will also be published on the www.gov.uk website.”

She further added:

“Part 2 of the Bill establishes in law the independent office of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner. Clause 10 makes provision for a framework document which, in effect, sets out how the Home Secretary and the Commissioner will work together. The document deals with, among other things, matters relating to governance, and the funding and staffing of the Commissioner’s office. To assist the scrutiny of the Bill, I have today published a draft of the framework document which has been agreed with the designate Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs.

“The draft framework document, together with other Bill documents including a revised impact assessment and policy equality statement are available at: https://www. gov.uk/government/collections/domestic-abuse-bill.”

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