5th Mar 2019 Document

Domestic abuse consultation response and draft bill

In March 2018, The Home Office consulted on proposals for this landmark draft bill, alongside a package of practical action. They sought views from victims, support organisations and frontline professionals, to harness their knowledge and expertise.

The consultation received over 3,200 responses from across the UK. During the consultation period, a large number of events were held across England and Wales, engaging over 1,000 people.

The Home Office wanted to extend their thanks to all those who shared their personal experiences through the consultation process and to all the organisations who hosted events and made sure that as many victims’ voices were heard as possible. The Home Office have put these victims’ testimonies and experiences at the centre of our response.

The Home Office know that domestic abuse is a cruel and complex crime that can affect anyone, leaving physical and emotional scars that can last a lifetime. It also places a considerable demand on public services – Home Office research published today estimates the economic and social costs of domestic abuse to society to be £66 billion for victims in 2016 to 2017.

The consultation asked questions on how they could achieve 4 main objectives, each with prevention and protection at their heart.

The responses explore how we can:

  • Promote awareness – to put domestic abuse at the top of everyone’s agenda, and raise public and professional awareness
  • Protect and support – to enhance the safety of victims and the support that they receive
  • Transform the justice process – to prioritise victim safety in the criminal and family courts, and review the perpetrator journey from identification to rehabilitation
  • Improve performance – to drive consistency and better performance in the response to domestic abuse across all local areas, agencies and sectors

Nine measures were identified that require primary legislation to implement. These will now be taken forward in the draft Domestic Abuse Bill and be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny.

These 9 measures are:

  • Provide for a statutory definition of domestic abuse
  • Establish the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and set out the commissioner’s functions and powers
  • Provide for a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order
  • Prohibit perpetrators of domestic and other forms of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in the family courts (and prevent victims from having to cross-examine their abusers) and give the court discretion to prevent cross-examination in person where it would diminish the quality of the witness’s evidence or cause the witness significant distress
  • Create a statutory presumption that complainants of an offence involving behaviour that amounts to domestic abuse are eligible for special measures in the criminal courts
  • Enable high-risk 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 on a statutory footing
  • Ensure that, where a local authority, for reasons connected with domestic abuse, grants a new secure tenancy to a social tenant who had or has a secure lifetime or assured tenancy (other than an assured shorthold tenancy), this must be a secure lifetime tenancy
  • Extend the extra-territorial jurisdiction of the criminal courts in England and Wales to further violent and sexual offences

You can read the associated documents relating to the draft Domestic Abuse Bill in the attachments below.

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