This week the Government has launched a consultation on a proposed domestic abuse bill. The bill recognises that not all domestic violence abuse is physical and therefore aims to provide a statutory definition of domestic abuse which will include physical abuse but also non-physical abuse such as financial abuse, verbal abuse and controlling and manipulative behaviour.
The Prime Minister has stated that this new bill is to ‘…recognise the lasting impact domestic abuse can have on families by allowing for tougher sentences in cases involving children, and will better protect victims with new domestic abuse protection orders, which allow police and courts to intervene earlier.’ There is also a proposal to create a domestic abuse commissioner to act as a national champion for victims.
Whilst this might sound like a promising step in the right direction the criminal law does already provide for such offending with the law on assaults and coercive and controlling behaviour. Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten. What the law fails to do is encourage victims to come forward and it remains to be seen how the proposed domestic abuse bill will bridge this gap.
At Emery Johnson Astills we are regularly instructed in defending in domestic violence prosecutions and are alert to the potential changes in legislation and sentencing guidelines which this new bill will impose. For further information and advice in relation to domestic violence offences and sentencing, please contact the Crime Team at Emery Johnson Astills on 0116 2554855.