The Domestic Abuse Act was given royal assent on 29th April and is set to come into force within 2021-2022. It comes in response to a consultation held by the government on the response to domestic abuse and how this can be changed or improved to better protect victims.
With over 2.3 million victims of domestic abuse each year, and the astounding revelation that one in ten of all offences reported to the police are related to domestic abuse, the introduction of this new Bill is a long-awaited piece of legislation.
Minister for Safeguarding, Victoria Atkins, MP has said of the Bill:
“Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime perpetrated on victims and their families by those who should love and care for them. This landmark Bill will help transform the response to domestic abuse, helping to prevent offending, protect victims and ensure they have the support they need.”
What will the Domestic Abuse Act do to better protect victims?
- Defining domestic abuse
The Act will ensure the creation of a new statutory definition of domestic abuse. This will emphasise the crucial fact that domestic abuse does not just relate to physical violence against a victim, but can also include, controlling or coercive behaviour, economic abuse and emotional abuse.
- The duty of local authorities
Local authorities within England will be required to provide support to victims and their children for a safe place to stay, this includes refuges and other safe accommodation.
- Cross-examination of abuse victims
Facing your abuser can be highly traumatic for victims, therefore the Bill will prohibit domestic abuse perpetrators from cross-examining a victim in person within civil and family courts, across England and Wales.
- Changes to ‘revenge porn’ offences
The ‘revenge porn’ offence is currently able to prosecute someone for disclosing private sexual photos or video that has the intent to cause a victim harm or distress. Under the new Bill this will be extended to include threats to disclose this material also.
- Polygraph testing
Following their release from custody, offenders will be required to complete a polygraph test as a condition of their licence under the new Act. Taken three months following their release and then every six months following, those that fail the test (i.e. they have breached their bail conditions) will be returned to prison.
- Secure lifetime tenancies
To guarantee that victims no longer need to feel ‘tied’ to abusers due to having no other place to go, the Act will ensure that local councils provide a secure lifetime tenancy to social tenants that have had to leave a previous secure tenancy due to reasons of domestic abuse.
Here at Poole Alcock Family Law, we welcome the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and the measures it will put in place to ensure victims are better protected and are able to move on with their life securely. With domestic abuse cases, court action is required to further protect victims and the team at Poole Alcock have many years’ experience in handling cases of this nature. Find out more about our domestic abuse legal services here.