Draft Domestic Abuse Bill published 21st January 2019

28 January 2019 Posted by

The landmark draft Domestic Abuse Bill was published 21st January. It comes as it is revealed domestic abuse issues cost the country £66 billion a year.

To help tackle the crime, it is proposed that new legislation will:

  • introduce the first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse to specifically include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse – this will enable everyone, including victims themselves, to understand what constitutes abuse and will encourage more victims to come forward
  • establish a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to drive the response to domestic abuse issues
  • introduce new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders
  • prohibit the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts
  • provide automatic eligibility for special measures to support more victims to give evidence in the criminal courts

The Home Office has published a report into the economic and social cost of domestic abuse, which reveals the crime cost England and Wales £66 billion in 2016 to 2017.

According to the research, the vast majority of this cost (£47 billion) was a result of the physical and emotional harm of domestic abuse, however it also includes other factors such as cost to health services (£2.3 billion), police (£1.3 billion) and victim services (£724 million).

It is estimated that around two million adults experience domestic abuse each year, affecting almost 6% of all adults. Women are twice as likely to be victims than men.

The draft bill will introduce measures:

  • to address coercive control and economic abuse, and how domestic abuse affects children
  • to transform the response in the justice system

The bill will also ban the distressing practice of domestic abuse victims being cross-examined by perpetrators in the family courts.

Between the draft bill and its consultation response, the government is making 120 commitments to tackle domestic abuse. Amongst these are a series of non-legislative measures which include:

  • £8 million of Home Office funding to support children affected by domestic abuse
  • a new crisis support system for those with no recourse to public funds
  • additional funding and capacity building for services for disabled, elderly and LGTB victims
  • updated support, training and guidance on economic abuse
  • new and additional training for job centre work coaches, police, social workers and probation staff to help them recognise and effectively tackle abuse
  • improved support for victims in the family court
  • additional £500,000 funding for provisions for male victims

The government estimates today that domestic abuse cost the economy £66 billion – more than the cost of alcohol and drug misuse, cigarettes and obesity combined. It affects more than 2 million people every year.

Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, Director of Surviving Economic Abuse said:

Economic abuse can prevent victims from leaving an abuser and thwart their efforts to rebuild their lives safely – it can even create new risks.

Through committing to ensure that practitioners have access to training and guidance on economic abuse, the government has recognised that physical and economic safety are entwined.

These new measures will help bring economic abuse out of the shadows and will transform responses, ensuring that victim-survivors are able to access the support they so desperately need.

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Simon, Research & Information Officer, Amethyst, Community Safety Team

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