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Government Response to the Domestic Abuse Consultation
Two years after the government first published its commitment to making positive changes to victims of domestic abuse, the response has been published as a draft Domestic Abuse Bill.
The consultation on domestic abuse asked questions on how 4 main objectives could be achieved and the government response looks at how to:
- Promote and raise awareness, both public and professional.
- Protect, support and keep victims safe.
- Transform the justice process in both criminal and family courts with the victim at the heart of it but also with a view to rehabilitating the offender.
- Improve the response to domestic abuse in all areas.
The draft Domestic Abuse Bill will deal with 9 issues that require a change in the law to achieve the above objectives. I have set out some of them below. I have chosen not to refer to the more technical measures here.
Listed below are some of the changes the public can expect to see before too long:
- A statutory definition of domestic abuse to specifically include economic abuse, as well as controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse.
- The establishment of the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner.
- New forms of Protection Notices and Orders.
- The prohibition of perpetrators of domestic and other forms of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in the family courts (and prevent victims from having to cross-examine their abusers) and giving the court discretion to prevent cross-examination in person.
- Enabling polygraph testing of high risk offenders as a condition of their licence following their release from custody
- Local authorities granting a new secure tenancy to a social tenant (as a result of domestic abuse issues) who had or has a secure lifetime or assured tenancy must grant a secure lifetime tenancy
This is certainly a positive step forward, as there are so many people experiencing forms of abuse that do not take on a physical form, but can be just as damaging for the victims.
Louise is a partner in our Family Team and a solicitor specialising in all aspects of family law, with a particular emphasis on complex financial matters, including those involving business assets and those with an international element.
She is dual qualified in England and in South Africa. Although she now practices solely in England, she deals with many cases which have a South African connection. She has been called upon to assist as an expert witness on English divorce law in the High Court of South Africa.