Domestic abuse consultation response and draft bill
07 February 2019
It is eighteen months since the government promised legislation to tackle domestic abuse. That has now arrived by way of a consultation response and draft bill, following a public consultation in 2018.
The document was published on January 21 by the Home Office and the Ministry for Justice, together with a report showing that the economic and social cost of domestic abuse in England Wales exceeded £66bn in 2016/17.
The draft bill proposes:
- a statutory definition of domestic abuse
- a domestic abuse commissioner
- a new system of domestic abuse protection notices and protection orders to deter and monitor perpetrators
- prohibiting alleged perpetrators of domestic abuse from cross-examining a complainant in family courts
- automatic special measures for complainants in criminal courts
- split payment of universal credit to remain at discretion of case workers at Department for Work and Pensions
- secure lifetime tenancies for victims of abuse who are offered alternative housing by local authorities
The draft bill does not include some of the key recommendations made in October in a report by the House of Commons home affairs select committee. This set out what MPs wished to see in such legislation and proposed ring-fenced national funding for domestic abuse services and making the provision of refuge spaces for victims a statutory duty on local authorities.