Victoria Atkins, Member of Parliament for Louth & Horncastle and Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, last week introduced landmark legislation to transform the legal response to Domestic Abuse.
The Domestic Abuse bill, published in draft in January 2019, has since undergone intense cross-party scrutiny to ensure it meets the needs of victims, charities and stakeholders. The Government received over 3200 responses to a public consultation carried out in 2018 and has worked with respondents from all sectors to ensure the legislation is fit for purpose.
Under the legislation set out in the new bill, for the first time ever, domestic abuse will have a legal definition, and this will encompass the many different forms the crime can take, ensuring that victims of psychological, economic abuse and coercive control receive the same legal protections as victims of physical abuse.
The bill will go further than ever to protect victims through their legal journey, imposing stricter restrictions on the offender and ensuring that they no longer have the power to continue their reign of abuse by cross-examining their victim in the family court. Additionally, the victim will automatically be eligible for greater support while giving evidence in the criminal court, in the form of automatic eligibility for special measures.
Ms Atkins said: “As a government, we must do all we can to support those who have suffered this horrendous abuse and I am committed to shining a light on this often-hidden crime.
“The Domestic Abuse Bill goes further than ever before and recognises the complex nature of domestic abuse, while putting the needs of victims at the forefront.”
The Government has accepted many of the suggestions, either in part or in full, made by the Joint Committee on the draft legislation, including giving greater consideration to the impact of abuse on migrant women.
• Ms Atkins has provided a first-hand account of how she hopes the new Domestic Abuse Bill will change lives. Pick up a copy of this week’s (July 24-30) Louth Leader or Horncastle News to read more.