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Domestic Abuse Bill receives royal assent

Date:4 MAY 2021
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The Domestic Abuse Bill is one of 16 Bills which have received Royal Assent ahead of the prorogation of Parliament. The ‘landmark’ Domestic Abuse Act is designed to provide  greater protection to those who experience domestic abuse and to increase measures available to tackle perpetrators. Speaking on the ‘long overdue’ legislation, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘This landmark act will transform  the support we offer across society. This includes the support Government provides to victims to ensure they have the protection they rightly need, so that perpetrators of these abhorrent crimes are brought to justice.’
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Measures introduced in the Act include:

  • providing a broad legal definition of domestic abuse which incorporates abuse beyond physical violence
  • ensuring that abusers will no longer be allowed to directly cross-examine their victims in the family and civil courts in England and Wales
  • establishing in law the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and setting out the Commissioner’s functions and powers
  • giving victims better access to special measures in the courtroom to help prevent intimidation
  • providing police with new powers including Domestic Abuse Protection Notices to provide victims with immediate protection from abusers
  • enabling courts to hand out new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to help prevent offending by forcing perpetrators to take steps to change their behaviour
  • amendments proposed earlier in 2021, including creating a new offence of non-fatal strangulation and widening revenge porn laws.
  • imposing a legal duty on councils across England to provide support such as therapy, advocacy and counselling in safe accommodation
  • providing that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance
  • placing the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme ('Clare’s law') on a statutory footing