Landmark moment in tackling domestic abuse announced

The Domestic Abuse Bill will receive its first reading in the House of Commons today in what is described by the Government as a "major step forward" in responding to the crime

The Domestic Abuse Bill will receive its first reading in the House of Commons today.

The Bill, which has been two years in the making, aims to tackle domestic abuse, both supporting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.

The Government carried out a public consultation on measures to be included in the Bill which saw more than 3,200 responses.

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New Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders are just some of the measures included in the Bill.

Other measures include prohibiting the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts; and providing automatic eligibility for special measures to support more victims to give evidence in the criminal courts;

A Domestic Abuse Commissioner to champion victims and survivors will also be established.

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She said: “I’m pleased that the Government has finally introduced this legislation nearly two years after it was originally planned. It is essential the new Prime Minister makes its safe passage a priority as it has the potential to impact on many lives.

"I welcome automatic eligibility for special measures for victims of domestic abuse, it is vital that the Government continues to widen these measures so that every victim is supported to give evidence."

The Rotherham MP however stated that the Bill does not do enough to recognise links between domestic abuse, sexual violence and exploitation.

Ms Champion said: "It is not too late for the Government to listen to the women’s sector and make this change.

"Alongside legislation, the Government must drastically increases funding for specialist support services or the experience of victims and survivors will not be radically altered by this Bill.”

“This Bill will help us do just that and represents a true step-change in our approach. It couldn’t have happened without the victims, charities, campaign groups and frontline agencies who have worked alongside government to ensure we get this right, and as we reflect on reaching this important milestone together I want to express my thanks to them once more.”

Also announced today are government plans to support asylum seekers suffering domestic abuse by ensuring they have access to refuges, ensuring that victims can receive the specialist support they need.

The Government will also undertake a review into the statutory response to migrant victims of domestic abuse.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Domestic abuse destroys lives and tears families apart, but all too often it is hidden behind closed doors.

“This landmark Bill is an opportunity to help those who suffer this deeply harmful crime and support those who bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins said: “Having spoken to survivors of domestic abuse, I have been both shocked by their stories and moved by their resilience and strength. As a government, we must do all we can to support those who have suffered this horrendous abuse.

“The Domestic Abuse Bill goes further than ever before and recognises the complex nature of domestic abuse, while putting the needs of victims at the forefront.”

A report, published back in January. revealed domestic abuse costs society £66 billion a year. It also estimated that around two million adults experience the crime each year, affecting almost six per cent of all adults.