A fair bit of family law news this week…
Under a new scheme being piloted by Northumbria Police, perpetrators of domestic violence are to be fitted with GPS trackers to alert their victims when they are nearby. The technology will be used to create alerts if a victim and perpetrator are in close proximity to each other, to avoid them having actual contact. The Domestic Abuse Perpetrator GPS Proximity Device Pilot is a voluntary scheme, which will see attackers fitted with a securely attached ankle tag while carrying a GPS tracking unit handset whenever they leave their home. The victim also carries a handset using the same GPS location technologies. Exclusion zones are set up around the victim or locations such as the victim’s home, place of work, or child’s school which the perpetrator will be banned from entering. If the perpetrator enters any of the exclusion zones, it will be picked up by a National Monitoring Centre which tracks the equipment, and they can then raise the alarm with the police’s communications centres and a call can be made to the victim. Sounds interesting, but I’m not sure how useful it will be if the perpetrator can choose whether to take part in the scheme.
According to new research by Citizens Advice, just one in five adults believe it is easy to tell what counts as domestic abuse. The survey also revealed that a third were not aware domestic abuse can happen between former partners, and only 39 per cent of people considered financial abuse as domestic abuse. In addition, just two fifths of respondents were aware that making a partner account for all their spending signified domestic abuse. All of which worryingly suggests that domestic abuse may be considerably under-reported. Time, perhaps, for children to be taught about it in the classroom?
Still on the subject of domestic abuse, the government has eased the rules relating to the obtaining (and maintaining) of legal aid for victims of domestic violence and abuse. A step in the right direction, albeit a very small one.
Continuing its drive to improve adoption, the government has pledged £30 million to speed up finding adoptive parents for children in care in England. The money will be provided this year to local authorities to cover costs they incur finding parents beyond their geographical borders. The funding will cover the £27,000 fee usually incurred by authorities to find parents outside their local area, to cover the cost of finding, assessing and matching a parent and child. Whilst I’m sure this money will be welcome, it does seem odd that the government can find large sums for adoption, but not for other areas of the family justice system.
In a story that made a fair few headlines this week (not to mention the many headlines that the case has previously made), Mr Prest has failed in his appeal against the judgment summons that Mrs Prest obtained against him, for failure to pay a maintenance order. I gave my take upon the Court of Appeal’s judgment in this post.
Lastly, the Office for National Statistics has produced annual estimates of the population by legal marital status and living arrangements for England and Wales, covering the years 2002 to 2014. Amongst the many interesting items thrown up by the estimates is the fact that one in eight adults in England and Wales are unmarried and living with a partner. This has led to calls, for example from family lawyers’ association Resolution, for the law to ‘catch up’, by introducing some form of legal protection for cohabitants to secure fair outcomes at the time of a couple’s separation, or on the death of one partner. One can only hope…
Have a good weekend.