"The Domestic Abuse Act 2021"
For detailed guidance and the schedule on these changes please see the bill listed here. (opens in new tab)
The government are putting into effect new laws to protect victims of domestic abuse. These amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill include a new offence of non-fatal strangulation, the offence of controlling or coercive behaviour to include abuse when the victims do not live together and the 'revenge porn' offence widened to cover the threat to share these intimate images.
A number of other amendments have also been listed in the above bill, which will:
- The amendments do confirm that if consent is given to serious harm for sexual gratification, that in itself is not a viable defence.
- Any behaviour which is classed as "abusive", can be classed as domestic abuse and it does not matter if its a single incident or a course of conduct.
- Provide special measures in the civil courts similar to those in the family courts such as screens and the ability to give evidence via video links for vulnerable parties.
- The widening of evidence to include professional letters to prove abuse has occurred to avoid cross-examination. Such letters are free as a prohibition on charging for medical evidence of domestic abuse is listed under section 82.
- Dragging victims to court can be used as a form of continuing domestic abuse, the use of 'barring orders' has been clarified to the family courts.
- Domestic Abuse offences against a person who is outside of the UK at the time of the offence, but are a UK national or is habitually resident have been clarified as still being offences as if done within the England and Wales.
- Sections 76 & 77 go into detail on the defence for victims of domestic abuse who commit an offence due to being impacted by domestic abuse (Reactive Abuse).
- Immigration victims of domestic abuse have been given a 'leave to remain'.
- Victims of Domestic Abuse are given a priority need for accommodation, in addition to that accommodation being a secure tenancy.
- Section 85 goes into detail about how monitoring of serial and serious domestic abuse perpetrators and 'stalkers' will be carried out (including advice on the interpretation of relevant domestic abuse or stalking - 327ZA Section 325).
- A lot of this bill is aimed at giving guidance towards to the relevant departments for the purpose of effective protection and support for all victims of domestic abuse.
In addition to these amendments the home office has also funded research into domestic abuse perpetrators. The aim is to develop an understanding of the perpetrator and to strengthen the evidence base for addressing this abusive behavior.
The amendments passed in the house of lords today also give a duty to co-operate with the newly appointed commissioner for domestic abuse such as a requirement of public authorities conducting homicide investigations to send copies of there reports to the commissioner to give the opportunity to learn lessons and prevent future deaths by issuing guidance.
Stephen Cooke - 14th April 2021