Following a recent report commissioned by Home Secretary Priti Patel, crimes against women and girls are to be considered as much of a priority to the police as anti-terrorism.
The report has described inconsistencies in the police’s response to such crimes against women as an “epidemic” of violence against female victims in the UK. More than 1 in 10 of all offences recorded by the police are domestic abuse-related.
Several recommendations have now been made that include the consideration of a new statutory duty to protect women and girls in the same way children are protected. This would not just apply to the police but would involve those working in health and education similarly.
How will the law change?
The Government has already responded to previous consultations on domestic abuse which finally culminated in The Domestic Abuse Bill receiving Royal Assent on 29th of April 2021. Consequently, there will be new piece of legislation, The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 to be brought into force during 2021/2022.
The purpose of The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 is to improve the effectiveness of the justice system, protect and support victims of abuse and their children and bring perpetrators to justice.
The police are currently empowered to issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPN) on an emergency basis when attending a domestic violence incident. DVPNs are effective immediately and can evict the alleged perpetrator from the home. Within 48 hours of the DVPN being issued, the police apply to the Magistrates court for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) that can keep the perpetrator away from the home and the victim for up to 28 days.
How can victims be better supported?
There will be new civil preventative orders. Domestic Abuse Protection Notices (DAPN) and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders (DAPO) that will sit alongside Non-Molestation Orders within family proceedings as an alternative to protect victims of domestic abuse.
A Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and/or Order will be closely modelled on the existing Domestic Violence Notices/Orders but will carry additional key features: –
- Domestic abuse protection notices (DAPN) will be available in a variety of courts, to include The Family Courts.
- A DAPN will protect a person from domestic abuse, or the risk of domestic abuse from a person they are personally connected with.
- A DAPN will be capable of imposing requirements, prohibitions and restrictions on the perpetrator in order to protect the victim.
- Breach of a Domestic Abuse Protection Order will be a criminal offence punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment, fine or both.
It is to be noted that both Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders are to be piloted in selected regions before being implemented throughout England Wales.
Any statistic for domestic abuse is one too many. It is therefore encouraging to see that this new legislation will bring a clearer focus on domestic abuse and provide for a higher level of protection and support that far too many victims and their children are clearly in desperate need of.Angela Hardman, Solicitor, Sinclair Law
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