Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans for new domestic violence legislation.
In a joint press release from the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, the Prime Minister said a “programme of works” would be likely to lead to the drafting of new legislation and the eventual creation of a Domestic Violence and Abuse Act.
The programme will explore current law and its success or otherwise in tackling the issues, improving current procedures and providing support for alleged victims, the press release explains. Experts will invited to submit proposals for changes to the legal system which, the government claims, varies to an unacceptable extent across different regions.
The eventual Domestic Violence and Abuse Act should, the announcement claims, would make it “much easier for law enforcement bodies to find and use more consistently the measures at their disposal.”
Theresa May has pledged to personally oversee the “truly cross-governmental” research programme. The Prime Minister said:
“I believe that the plans I have announced today have the potential to completely transform the way we think about and tackle domestic violence and abuse. There are thousands of people who are suffering at the hands of abusers – often isolated, and unaware of the options and support available to them to end it. Given the central importance of victim evidence to support prosecutions in this area, raising public awareness – as well as consolidating the law – will prove crucial. “
In addition to this telling reference to the use of “victim evidence” to “support prosecutions”, the press release states that domestic violence is “one of the most widespread and heinous offences, but one where victims are often let down by the legal system.” It states that eventual legislation would aim to “encourage victims to report their abusers and see them brought to justice.”
In response to parallel plans regarding the cross-examination of women who have alleged domestic violence by the men they have accused, barrister Lucy Reed recently stressed to Solicitors Journal:
“We need to know a lot more about these proposals to be able to say whether they will cure the problems that have been identified (potential intimidation, retraumatisation, and perpetuation of abuse), and to ensure that they don’t create another problem in the form of injustice for those accused of abuse.”
Photo of Home Office headquarters by Canley via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence