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Domestic abuse bill

8 Jul 2020

The Domestic Abuse Bill completed its Report Stage and Third Reading on Monday 6th July, and was voted through by the House of Commons. The Bill will now be debated in the House of Lords, going through the same sequence of readings and stages as in the Commons, before it receives Royal Assent and becomes law. The Bill is the result of a lot of collaboration but many groups who work in this area are disappointed it does not cover all people. Currently, some immigrants with an insecure status cannot access public funds or housing and refuge support.

This bill is a significant step in the right direction and will provide safety and wellbeing for survivors and their families. We would like to see its protection extended to all survivors no matter their immigration status.

Kieran Breen, CEO

The Domestic Abuse Bill will:

Create a statutory definition of domestic abuse, emphasising that domestic abuse is not just physical violence, but can also be emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic abuse. As part of this definition, children will be explicitly recognised as victims if they witness abuse

Establish a Domestic Abuse Commissioner, to stand up for victims and survivors, raise public awareness, monitor the response of local authorities, the justice system and other statutory agencies and hold them to account in tackling domestic abuse

Provide for a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order, which will prevent perpetrators from contacting their victims, as well as force them to take positive steps to change their behaviour, e.g. seeking mental health support

Place a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation

Prohibit perpetrators of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in courts in England and Wales

bring the case of R vs Brown into legislation, invalidating any courtroom defence of consent where a victim suffers serious harm or is killed

create a statutory presumption that victims of domestic abuse are eligible for special measures in the criminal courts (for example, to enable them to give evidence via a video link)

Enable domestic abuse offenders to be subject to polygraph testing as a condition of their licence following their release from custody

place the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (“Clare’s law”) on a statutory footing

Ensure that when local authorities rehouse victims of domestic abuse, they do not lose a secure lifetime or assured tenancy

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