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Domestic abuse consultation response and draft bill

It is eighteen months since the government promised legislation to tackle domestic abuse. That has now arrived by way of a consultation response and draft bill, following a public consultation in 2018.

The document was published on January 21 by the Home Office and the Ministry for Justice, together with a report showing that the economic and social cost of domestic abuse in England Wales exceeded £66bn in 2016/17.

The draft bill proposes:

  • a statutory definition of domestic abuse
  • a domestic abuse commissioner
  • a new system of domestic abuse protection notices and protection orders to deter and monitor perpetrators
  • prohibiting alleged perpetrators of domestic abuse from cross-examining a complainant in family courts
  • automatic special measures for complainants in criminal courts
  • split payment of universal credit to remain at discretion of case workers at Department for Work and Pensions
  • secure lifetime tenancies for victims of abuse who are offered alternative housing by local authorities

The draft bill does not include some of the key recommendations made in October in a report by the House of Commons home affairs select committee. This set out what MPs wished to see in such legislation and proposed ring-fenced national funding for domestic abuse services and making the provision of refuge spaces for victims a statutory duty on local authorities.