The Domestic Abuse Bill

By Muna Oriaku


The Domestic Abuse Bill has caught the attention of many as it has passed through parliament. In 2019, the government included in their manifesto their plans to improve and protect survivors of domestic abuse. This notion was carried over to the Johnson government. However, due to the domination of Brexit in the political climate, the introduction of this legislation was postponed.

Throughout lockdown, the current flaws in the law concerning domestic abuse have been highlighted. This alone saw an increase in Domestic Abuse helpline calls by 25% and a 24% increase to the Metropolitan police. It has since led to organisations and MPs calling for the Domestic Abuse Bill to be revisited.

JOURNEY OF THE BILL

Reintroduced in March 2020, the most recent activity occurred on July 7th. The Bill had passed its 1st reading in the House of Lords and is now due for its 2nd reading.

AIM OF THE BILL

The Bill’s main aim is to ensure those who fall victim to domestic abuse receive the help they need, protecting victims from the perpetrators. Another focus is on the services offered to prevent perpetrators from offending. Through such provisions, the government aims to reduce homicide rates in England. How the government aims to tackle this include:

- A statutory definition of Domestic Abuse to provide clarity to individuals.

- A duty given to local authorities to guarantee full support is given to victims (including children).

- National guidance for police on serial and repeat perpetrators.

OPINION OF THE BILL

Major areas that need to be improved upon include the following:

Health and community services will be required to provide refuge for those who need it most (domestic abuse victims). Providing this will ensure that the right protection is given to these victims, leading to a decrease in homicide rates due to the flexibility of emergency housing. Additionally, the workers within the health and community sectors can be held accountable if they fall below the standard of care that is required of them. This certifies their duty concerning the victims.

Furthermore, the strict rule of No Resource to Public Funds (NRPF), excludes some women from accessing government funding. This tends to impact those who have migrant status as many do not hold a full UK visa and, therefore, cannot access relevant funds. This particularly impacts members of the BAME community. It leaves such women vulnerable to the perpetrator and, as such, are then more likely to suffer serious or life-threatening injuries. Many turn to charities to help them out. Yet, due to lack of funding, charity resources are often limited in comparison to the influx they receive. The removal of the No Resource to Public Funds rule will tackle this disparity, removing prospective injustices and ensuring all victims receive help, regardless of their migrant status.

Hopefully, as the Bill progresses through parliament, the considerations highlighted will be met with adequate changes to suit all. Tackling such gaps within the Bill will ensure a fair and more equal society.

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