A new Domestic Abuse Bill received its first reading in the House of Commons last week.

The introduction followed detailed scrutiny of the initial draft by a cross-party parliamentary committee. This in turn followed a public consultation last year that received more than 3,000 responses from charities and interested parties.

The government insists the resulting bill is both a “landmark” and the most comprehensive ever introduced on the topic.

Measures to be introduced by the Bill include:

  • The first statutory government definition of domestic abuse.
  • New Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Orders, which will be issued to protect apparent victims by restricting the movements of alleged offenders.
  • A prohibition on alleged offenders without legal representation cross-examining their accusers in court.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“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. 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.”

Former Justice Secretary David Gauke added:

“This Bill marks a fundamental shift in our response to domestic abuse – establishing greater protections for victims, whilst ensuring perpetrators feel the full weight of the law.”

He continued:

“By banning abusers from cross-examining their victims in the family courts, and giving courts greater powers through new protection orders, we are making sure the justice system is better equipped than ever to tackle this horrific crime.”

Image by Mark Fischer via Flickr (Creative Commons