Domestic Abuse Protection Notices to be introduced to protect victims from attackers
Investigators will be given new powers including Domestic Abuse Protection Notices to provide victims with immediate protection from abusers as part of the new Domestic Abuse Act which has received Royal Assent.
Courts will also be able to hand out new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to help prevent offending by forcing perpetrators to take steps to change their behaviour, including seeking mental health support or drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
For the first time in history there will be a wide-ranging legal definition of domestic abuse which incorporates a range of abuses beyond physical violence, including emotional, coercive or controlling behaviour, and economic abuse.
The measures include important new protections and support for victims ensuring that abusers will no longer be allowed to directly cross-examine their victims in the family and civil courts, and giving victims better access to special measures in the courtroom to help prevent intimidation – such as protective screens and giving evidence via video link.
In recent weeks, the government has added new measures to the bill to further strengthen the law, including creating a new offence of non-fatal strangulation, extending an offence to cover the threat to disclose intimate images, and clarifying the law to further clamp down on claims of “rough sex gone wrong” in cases involving death or serious injury.
Other measures included in the act include:
extending the controlling or coercive behaviour offence to cover post-separation abuse
explicitly recognise children as victims if they see, hear or experience the effects of abuse
establish in law the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and set out the Commissioner’s functions and powers
placing a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation
provide that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance
place the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s law’) on a statutory footing