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Government Proposes Changes to the Law on Domestic Abuse

On Monday 21st January 2019, the Government is set to introduce a draft Domestic Abuse Bill, the aim of which is to provide greater protection to victims of domestic abuse.

Domestic violence and abuse currently covers any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can include but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse. The proposed legislation will introduce a statutory definition of domestic abuse which will also recognise economic abuse and control as manipulative behaviour. Other proposed measures include the appointment of a commissioner dedicated to improving the response and support for victims across public services, and new protection orders which force perpetrators to attend rehabilitation or behaviour change programmes. It will also provide clarification about ‘Clare’s Law’ which was a measure introduced a number of years ago to allow members of the public to obtain information from the police if they have concerns over a partner’s previous violence.  The proposed legislation will also prevent alleged perpetrators from cross-examining their victims in court.

The new Bill, supported by campaigners, comes after government research revealed that the social and economic cost of domestic abuse in 2016-17 was £66billion.

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