Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd presented a private member’s bill in the House of Commons earlier this week that would criminalise all forms of domestic abuse.
In March last year, the government adopted an expanded definition of domestic abuse that included coercion and intimidation, as well as financial and emotional abuse. However, under current legislation, not all of this behaviour is a criminal offence.
Mr Llwyd’s bill would give the expanded definition of abuse full legal force. It was sponsored by trade union Napo and by the Justice Unions Parliamentary Group, which represents justice sector professionals in parliament.
“Domestic violence is pervasive in our society. Every minute, police across the country will receive a domestic violence-related call. These are not trivial incidents, yet according to Women’s Aid, only 6.5% of reported domestic violence incidents result in a conviction. Many domestic violence cases which are passed on to the Crown Prosecution Service result in no action being taken. This cannot be right.”
The MP continued:
“At present, our criminal system is too focused on the physical evidence of violent crimes committed against a victim. Coercive control and emotional blackmail, on the other hand, do not leave scars or bruises – but they are every bit as debilitating. This bill provides that a person could be found guilty of an offence if they display behaviour which is covered by the government’s definition of domestic violence.”