The draft Domestic Abuse Bill has been published this week in a bid to further support victims and their families.
Updated legislation was proposed after research revealed that domestic abuse issues in England and Wales were costing the country £66 billion a year.
In a first-of-its-kind move, the new Bill will update the Government definition of domestic abuse to specifically include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse.
Commenting on the announcement, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said this change will enable everyone, including victims themselves, to “understand what constitutes abuse” and “will encourage more victims to come forward”.
As part of the proposed plan, a Domestic Abuse Commissioner will also be established to help “drive the response to domestic abuse issues”. This is alongside new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders.
The Government will also look to address another major concern in the courts: an alleged offender being allowed to cross-examine their victim.
The new Bill would look to limit an abuser’s access to cross-examine victims in the family courts, while also providing automatic eligibility for special measures to support more victims to give evidence in criminal courts.
Ms Atkins said: “I have heard absolutely heartbreaking accounts of victims whose lives have been ripped apart because of physical, emotional or economic abuse they have suffered by someone close to them.
“The draft Domestic Abuse Bill recognises the complex nature of these horrific crimes and puts the needs of victims and their families at the forefront.”
She added: “This government is absolutely committed to shining a light on domestic abuse to ensure this hidden crime does not remain in the shadows.”
The draft Domestic Abuse Bill can be viewed in full here. For advice on how these changes could affect you or your family, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our expert team.
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