Overhaul for domestic abuse legislation

Category: Divorce, Domestic Violence, Family

If you have heard or read the news this week, in amongst the ongoing daily Brexit coverage you might have read that the Government has published its plans for a comprehensive overhaul of domestic abuse legislation. This is aimed at providing more extensive support and services for domestic abuse victims through a number of long-awaited initiatives.

Perhaps the most publicised of these is “Clare’s Law”. This provision is named after the victim Clare Wood who was murdered by her partner George Appleton. As a result of campaigning by her family provision is now in place for men and women to make enquiries with police to check whether potential new partners have a history of domestic abuse. Police can also provide information to potential victims to ‘warn’ them of their partner’s past.

Reviewing this area of law has been on the Government’s agenda for some considerable time; the all-consuming Brexit debate over the last 2 years has rather delayed the changes coming into place so this is a welcomed but very long anticipated review which in the view of many domestic abuse charities is long overdue.

In addition to Clare’s Law a number of other initiatives are set to be implemented including banning domestic abuse perpetrators from cross-examining their victims in family courts, creating new powers to force perpetrators into rehabilitation programmes aimed at changing behaviours, ensuring victims are eligible for special protections when they are required to give evidence during a criminal trial and setting up the role of a Commissioner to improve support services for victims.

Perhaps importantly it should be noted that the domestic abuse definition will be widened so that it goes beyond the current assumption that all domestic abuse is violence-based and ensure that those who suffer psychological abuse through coercion and manipulation and those that have no access to or control over their own financial affairs are recognised as victims of domestic abuse.

These changes are certainly being welcomed by all professionals working to support victims of domestic abuse but many are critical about the time it has taken. The promise of overhaul came some 2 years ago as a result of being a key part of the Queen’s speech of 2017, so critics and campaigners are urging the Government to prioritise these plans…. We must wait and see whether these pleas are answered.

If you feel that you have suffered, or are at risk of suffering from domestic abuse of any form, or you need to speak to a member of our Family Team about any aspect of separation, Nash & Co have an experienced team who have expertise in areas of domestic abuse.

Contact the team on 01752 827030, or visit www.nash.co.uk