23rd January 2019
On Monday the government unveiled its new strategy to tackle domestic abuse. This follows a consultation exercise carried out last year which drew over 3,000 responses.
The new measures are:
While we will have to await the passage of the bill through parliament to see the final package, one thing of particular note to us as criminal lawyers is the proposal to create a Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order.
This will be based on the existing regime for criminal behaviour orders (formerly known as ASBOs). Breach of these orders will carry imprisonment of up to 5 years.
While the existing legislative provisions could be used in the context of domestic violence, they rarely are. What we have seen over the years is the specific tailoring of the framework to meet particular problems (in terrorism and trafficking for example). We can, therefore, expect the effect of these orders to impact quickly, resulting in stiff prison sentences for those who breach them. The government estimates that hundreds more offenders may face imprisonment each year.
We do however foresee some real problems. Domestic abuse is a particularly complex societal problem, relationships are often problematic and rocky, and it is possible that breach will be used as a ‘weapon’ against many defendants. It will, therefore, be imperative to ensure that recipients of these orders understand the severe impacts and consequences that will follow. It will also be essential to ensure that orders are only made in appropriate cases.
As a firm, we closely monitor all legislative developments and will keep you updated as the bill progresses through parliament.
How can we help?
Cases of alleged domestic violence are important and sensitive cases to deal with. Our specialist lawyers can advise you on whether you have a defence, and help you put that defence forward, advising on prospects of success and navigating a successful path through the long and stressful court process.