Domestic abuse bill reaches the House of Lords Committee stage


‘’Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime perpetrated on victims and their families by those who should love and care for them. This landmark Bill will help transform the response to domestic abuse, helping to prevent offending, protect victims and ensure they have the support they need’’.

Victoria Atkins MP, Minister for Safeguarding

The measures in the Domestic Abuse Bill seek to raise awareness of domestic abuse, including by legislating for the first time for a statutory definition of domestic abuse.  The Bill aims to protect and support victims by introducing a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Order (DAPO).  Measures in the Bill seek to transform the justice response, for example by preventing the cross-examination of victims in family court proceedings by the abuser.  The Bill also creates the new Domestic Abuse Commissioner role to help drive consistency and better performance in the response to domestic abuse across all local areas and agencies.

Specifically the 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.
  • Establish in law 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.
  • Placing 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 the civil and family courts in England and Wales.
  • Create a statutory presumption that victims of domestic abuse are eligible for special measures in the criminal, civil and family courts.
  • Clarify by restating in statute law the general proposition that a person may not consent to the infliction of serious harm and, by extension, is unable to consent to their own death.
  • Extend the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the criminal courts in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to further violent and sexual offences.
  • 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.
  • Provide that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance.
  • 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.

The BCDAF fully support this Bill and have made a number of proposals for Parliament to consider in the final crafting of this seminal piece of legislation.  Please got to our Vlog page to view this document.  For more information about the Bill click here

The BCDAF offer training and support to churches and church organisations who wish to improve their responses to domestic abuse.

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