The government has brought its Domestic Abuse Bill before Parliament with Prime Minister Theresa May saying: “We have a duty not only to bring the perpetrators of these vile crimes to justice, but to support victims as they rebuild their lives.”
The outgoing premier commented: “Domestic abuse can take many forms, from horrific physical violence to coercive behaviour that robs people of their self-esteem, their freedom and their right to feel safe in their own homes. But the immense bravery I’ve seen demonstrated by survivors is consistent throughout.”
She hopes the bill will be a positive legacy from her premiership, cut short by divisions over Brexit.
The draft bill was published in January and proposed measures include prohibiting perpetrators of domestic abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in family courts; placing the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare’s Law) on a statutory footing; and extending the offence of coercive control to Northern Ireland.
While supporting the bill Simon Blackburn, chairman of the Local Government Association’s safer and stronger communities board, cautioned: “The ability of councils to fund services for victims is limited by significant pressures on their budgets, with local authorities increasingly being forced to prioritise spending for those at immediate risk of harm, rather than on vital earlier support services and prevention schemes which help stop domestic abuse occurring in the first place.
“With local government facing an £8 billion funding gap by 2025, any legislative changes in this bill must be matched with adequate resources and funding which the new Prime Minister needs to address in the spending review.”