Landmark Draft Legislation for Victims of Domestic AbusePepperells
The Government’s new plans to tackle domestic abuse comes in the form of the new draft Bill known as “Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse: Consultation Response and Draft Bill”. This Bill, which is yet to be published, has been introduced as part of the Government’s plans to transform the way we think about domestic abuse and includes new measures to effectively tackle domestic abuse.
One the most important measures to be welcomed by not only legal professionals but victims of domestic abuse is the end to cross-examination of domestic violence victims by their perpetrators within the Family Courts. In criminal proceedings, if a defendant is unrepresented then the court can make an order for the defendant to be prevented from cross-examining the victim in person. It is a positive change that the Bill introduces new powers into the Family Courts system to prevent direct cross-examination of a victim by their abuser as it can be a distressing experience. This is extremely significant for the development of the Family Courts in dealing with sensitive cases involving domestic abuse but also in respect of eliminating the opportunity for perpetrators to continue with their controlling abusive behaviour. It is therefore hoped this new measure will promote further confidence in the Family Courts system.
Another landmark feature of the new Bill is that it will introduce the first statutory Government definition of domestic abuse. The definition will specifically include attempts to control or withhold money (economic abuse) along with psychological coercion, controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse. It is envisaged that having a working definition of domestic abuse will provide society as a whole with a better understanding of domestic abuse in light of there being a definitive explanation of it. Furthermore, having a wider definition of domestic abuse may encourage victims to seek help and support.
In respect of current measures to tackle domestic abuse, this new legislation will also clarify the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (also known as “Clare’s Law”). This is a scheme that enables the police to disclose information to a victim, or potential victim, of domestic abuse about their partner’s previous abusive or violent offending. The proposed Bill states that the Government wants to raise awareness of the scheme and increase the number of disclosures made.
Although there is still a long way to go to ensure the safety and security of victims of domestic abuse this Bill shows a change in attitude towards protecting victims of domestic abuse.
Pepperells Solicitors can provide advice and support in respect of the options available to protect against and prevent domestic abuse. Pepperells Solicitors can offer support through the Family Courts system if it is felt that an application to the court for an Injunction Order is the best option to secure the health, safety and well-being of an individual and/or relevant child.