The Domestic Abuse Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 3rd March 2020. The Bill will help raise awareness of domestic abuse and will provide additional support to victims of domestic violence as well as tacking the perpetrator’s behaviour. These new laws, once passed, will protect victims of domestic abuse.
The Domestic Abuse Bill will create a statutory definition for domestic abuse, emphasising that domestic abuse is not just physical violence, but can also be emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic/financial abuse. There is currently no statutory definition for domestic abuse so the Bill will define domestic abuse making the law clearer for everyone.
On 1st March 2021 the Government announced that amendments would be proposed to the Domestic Abuse Bill to provide greater protection to victims of domestic abuse.
The Government’s proposals include the following:
1. Non-fatal strangulation would become a specific criminal offence;
2. It will no longer be a requirement for abusers and victims to live together for the offence of controlling or coercive behaviour;
3. The offence of revenge porn will be widened to include threats to share intimate images.
The proposals have been announced as there are concerns that perpetrators were avoiding punishment as non-fatal strangulation can often leave no visible injury. Due to there being no visible injury this makes it harder for a person to be prosecuted under existing offences.
The proposal will make it an offence to intentionally strangle another person or do any other act that affects a person’s ability to breathe. The offence will cover a range of behaviour specifically including strangulation and suffocation and other methods which affect another person’s ability to breathe. The offence will be punishable by up to five years in prison.
Under the proposals, it will no longer be a requirement for abusers and victims to live together for the offence of controlling or coercive control. This change comes as a result of a government review which highlighted that people who leave abusive ex-partners can suffer from sustained or increased controlling or coercive behaviour post-separation even when they are no longer living together.
The offence of revenge porn was introduced by the Government in 2015. This offence will be widened to include threats to disclose intimate images with the intention to cause distress. This offence will be punishable by up to two years in prison.
The Domestic Abuse Bill has already passed through the House of Commons stage and will proceed to the next stage in the House of Lords on 8th March 2021. The Bill will be looked at closer and changes may be made.
Once the Bill has passed through the House of Lords, it is likely to be presented for Royal Assent in the Spring. This is the final stage in the process where the Queen will approve the Bill, the Bill will then become law providing greater protection for victims of domestic abuse.
Blog by Sapphire Stait