The Domestic Abuse Act 2021

Thursday 16th September 2021

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 received Royal Assent on 29th April 2021. This Act was previously known as the Domestic Abuse Bill which was introduced in the House of Commons in March 2020 with the aim of providing greater protection to victims of domestic violence.

The Act is now law due to the Queen confirming her approval for the law to be passed.

The Act has created the following statutory definition of domestic abuse:

Behaviour of a person (“A”) towards another person (“B”) is “domestic abuse” if—

1.    A and B are each aged 16 or over and are personally connected to each other, and;

2.    The behaviour is abusive.

3.    Behaviour is “abusive” if it consists of any of the following:

(a) physical or sexual abuse;

           (b) violent or threatening behaviour;

           (c) controlling or coercive behaviour;

           (d) economic abuse;

           (e) psychological, emotional or other abuse;

It does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.

“Economic abuse” means any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect on B’s ability to:

           (a) acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or

       (b) obtain goods or services.

The Home Office has recently issued a consultation seeking views on the draft domestic abuse statutory guidance.

The aims of the guidance are to:

1 Provide clear information on what domestic abuse is in order to assist with its identification;

2 Provide guidance and support to frontline professionals, who have responsibilities for safeguarding and supporting victims of domestic abuse;

3 Improve the institutional response to domestic abuse by conveying best practice and standards for commissioning response.

The consultation will close on 14th September 2021 and is aimed at:

● English local authorities;

● Criminal justice services, including courts, prisons, police forces, police and crime commissioners and the Crown Prosecution Service;

● Services for forms of violence against women and girls including any specialist domestic abuse services (this will include services serving men and boys);

● Local housing and homelessness teams, registered social landlords;

● Early years, childcare, schools, colleges and higher education settings;

● The Healthcare sector;

● Adult social care and children’s social care providers;

● Employers and job centres;

● Financial services (banks and building societies);

● Community and faith groups;

● Any other interested stakeholders, including victims and users of support and prevention services.