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Home Secretary launches new Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan

Date:4 APR 2022
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Home Secretary Priti Patel has recently launched a new Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan informed by victims and survivors.

The new plan aligns closely to the recent Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy and sets a clear ambition of prioritising the prevention of these awful crimes, supporting victims and pursuing perpetrators.

Some 2.3 million people in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse in the last year and around 1 in 5 homicides are related to domestic abuse. The government has already taken steps to prevent these crimes, but the new plan is set to go even further in tackling this threat, by delivering many of the provisions set out in the Domestic Abuse Act.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "Domestic abuse is a devastating crime that ruins lives and tackling it is an important part of this government’s Beating Crime Plan. For far too long the focus has been on what the victim might have done differently, rather than on the behaviour of the perpetrators themselves. This must now change. My Domestic Abuse Plan focuses on taking the onus off victims and making it easier for them to access the help and support they need, while taking tough action against perpetrators."

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Pursuing perpetrators

The plan includes new measures to tackle perpetrators including:

  • options for creating a new register for domestic abusers which could require perpetrators to take actions such as reporting to the police when changing address or opening a bank account with a new partner
  • increasing electronic tagging to a further 3,500 individuals who have left prison and who pose a risk to women and girls
  • investing £75 million on directly addressing abusers’ behaviour, as part of an overall £81 million for tackling perpetrators over the next 3 years

Prioritising prevention

The plan sets out key actions to prevent domestic abuse from happening in the first place. These include:

  • a package of support for teachers to deliver the relationship, sex, and health education curriculum to ensure children learn about healthy relationships at an early age
  • making it easier to access information on a partner’s or ex-partner’s previous abusive or violent offending by revising and consulting on the guidance underpinning the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, known as Clare’s Law, to consider the timescales for disclosure and promote tools which allow online applications
  • working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to review police forces which record the highest rates of domestic homicide and serious domestic abuse crimes

Supporting victims

The plan aims to help all victims and survivors who have escaped from domestic abuse feel that they can get back to life as normal, with support for their health, emotional, economic and social needs. This includes:

  • a doubling of funding for the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which sees on average 15,000 users every 3 months, and an uplift for all other national tackling VAWG helplines, to a combined total of over £2 million a year
  • a commitment to reviewing the statutory leave laws for victims of domestic abuse
  • funding 700 independent domestic violence and sexual violence advocate roles with additional funding for 300 roles later this year to refer and support victims and survivors

A stronger system

The plan intends to improve the systems and processes that underpin the response to domestic abuse across society. This includes:

  • the expansion of the successful Ask for Ani codeword scheme to be piloted in Jobcentre offices across the UK
  • £7.5 million over 3 years to enable healthcare professionals to better identify, refer and support victims and survivors of domestic abuse
  • more work to support police to help identify and reduce the risks of suicide in cases involving domestic abuse

The government has also introduced new measures in our Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will give victims of domestic abuse longer to report offences to the police, so that abusers cannot evade justice.

Minister for Safeguarding Rachel Maclean said:

Domestic abuse causes untold harm and misery in our society. Victims and survivors endure horrific ordeals that can stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Every case is different, but there are a number of core principles that must drive our approach - preventing abuse, a more joined up approach, supporting victims and cracking down on those that cause harm.

By putting these central to our plan, we will transform our response to domestic abuse. We must all work together to stop domestic abuse.

CEO of Refuge Ruth Davison said: "Refuge is incredibly grateful to the Home Office for doubling its funding for our National Domestic Abuse Helpline. The helpline is the gateway to specialist services across the country and both saves, and changes, women’s lives. The pandemic really did underscore the need for increased funding for specialist frontline services. Refuge’s helpline saw a sharp increase in demand which, in real terms, means more women needing us than ever before."

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